JAMES MacPHERSON Associated Press Writer
BISMARCK, N.D. MDU-Resources Group Inc. is reporting a record profit in 2006 and an increase in its dividends for the 16th consecutive year. The Bismarck-based energy, mining and construction company posted earnings of $315.1 million, up from $274.4 million in 2005, a 15 percent increase. “Our overall results in 2006 were absolutely outstanding,” Terry Hildestad, president and chief executive officer said Tuesday. “We had record earnings in nearly all of our lines of business, including phenomenal performance from our construction materials and mining and construction services operations.” The company, which has operations in 44 states and Brazil, said it was the fourth consecutive year of record profit. “Our momentum is strong and we’re looking for another strong year,” Hildestad said. Revenues jumped from $3.4 billion in 2005 to $4 billion in 2006, an 18 percent increase, said Tim Rasmussen, a company spokesman. Each of MDU’s divisions posted a profit last year, he said. “We hit on all cylinders,” Rasmussen said. Earnings per share increased from $1.53 to $1.74 in 2006, a 14 percent increase. The company also raised its 2007 guidance for per-share profit to a range of $1.50 to $1.70, up from $1.45 to $1.65. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial forecast profit of $1.71 per share. MDU shares rose 55 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $25.93 in midday trading Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange. In construction materials and mining, MDU reported a record $85.7 million in earnings last year, up from $55.1 million in 2005. The company said its natural gas and oil production segment had $145.7 million in profit last year, compared with $141.6 million in 2005. The company’s pipeline segment posted a record $30 million in earnings last year, compared with $22.1 million in 2005. MDU Resources Group is the parent company of Montana-Dakota Utilities, which provides electricity to portions of North Dakota and four other states. Montana-Dakota Utilities had $20.1 million in earnings in 2006, up from $17.4 million in 2005.