MDU Resources Group Inc. on Aug. 1 reported second-quarter 2017 earnings from continuing operations of $43.8 million, or 22 cents per share, down from $46.1 million, or 24 cents per share, in the same quarter in 2016. The results fall below the S&P Capital IQ normalized EPS consensus estimate of 25 cents.
"Our second quarter results emphasize the benefits of our two-platform business model. Colder temperatures across our natural gas utility service territories and higher workloads and margins at the construction services business helped offset some of the impacts that above-average precipitation had on several markets where our construction materials business operates," said MDU Resources President and CEO David Goodin in a statement.
On a segment basis, MDU Resource's construction services business contributed earnings of $12.4 million, up 77% compared to $7.0 million in the same quarter in 2016, primarily driven by higher earnings in all service lines. Project backlog at the end of the quarter increased 17% year over year to $596 million, from $508 million a year ago.
The construction materials business booked earnings of $21.2 million, compared to $33.7 million in the second quarter of 2016. The construction materials segment's backlog at the end of the second quarter was $766 million, down from $805 million, a year ago.
Meanwhile, the electric and natural gas utility segment reported earnings of $5.0 million in the quarter ending June 30, rising from $200,000 in the year-ago period. The segment reported 19% higher natural gas retail sales volumes and higher retail sales margins, while cost recovery through regulatory relief also impacted the higher earnings for the segment.
In the pipeline and midstream business, second-quarter 2017 earnings were $5.3 million, down from $6.3 million, a year ago. The lower results were due to the absence of earnings from the previously announced sale of the company's stake in the Pronghorn assets.
MDU's operating revenues for the second quarter of 2017 climbed to $74.6 million from $73.8 million a year ago, while operating income ticked up to $13.6 million from $13.4 million in the same quarter in 2016.
MDU Resources continues to target 2017 EPS in the range of $1.10 to $1.25.