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Dave Goodin, CEO and president of MDU Resources Group Inc., talks about the utility company's 70 years as a member of the New York Stock Exchange from his office headquarters in Bismarck earlier this year. 

MDU Resources Group Inc. is “on track” to meet its yearly expectations, according to the company's CEO Dave Goodin.

The corporation Thursday reported third-quarter earnings of $107.4 million, or 55 cents per share, compared to $89.6 million, or 46 cents per share for the same period last year. For the first nine months of the year, earnings totaled $193.4 million, or 99 cents per share, compared to $168.8 million, or 86 cents per share last year.

MDU stock prices opened at $25.45 per share Thursday.

Stock prices for the corporation, which operates in the two sectors of utilities and construction, has been lagging behind other utilities but ahead of others in the construction business, said Edward Jones financial analyst Andy Smith.

Utility companies have been performing particularly well on the market, Smith said, while construction has struggled, which makes MDU’s position, as a combination of the two, no surprise.

But Smith advises investors to keep an eye on margins and backlogs in the company’s construction businesses.

“The stock market is often ahead of what happens,” he said, as some investors are expecting construction to slow down as federal interest rates go up. “We haven’t seen this with MDU’s numbers yet.”

Instead, the company has been expanding in this area, with Dave Barney, CEO of MDU’s construction materials subsidiary, Knife River Corporation, completing four merger deals this year.

“There is a long list of companies we’re looking at,” Barney said. “I think it looks good for us going forward.”

And Jeff Thiede, CEO of the corporation’s construction services subsidiary, has been adding personnel to his mergers and acquisitions team. He said they’re looking for potential mergers that would allow them to add  services and service areas.

“We ended the quarter with record combined revenues, earnings and backlog at our construction companies,” Goodin said.

On the utilities side, Goodin highlighted finalization of the expansion to Thunder Spirit Wind farm in southwestern North Dakota, which brings the company’s portfolio to 27 percent renewables. The company also put another natural gas pipeline expansion into service near Watford City.

“With natural gas production continuing at record levels in the Bakken, demand remains high for additional transportation capacity,” Goodin said.

MDU’s pipeline subsidiary celebrated its fifth consecutive quarter of record natural gas transport, matching record natural gas production levels in the Bakken.

The state, in August, produced 2.4 billion cubic feet per day, according to the latest preliminary figures from the state Department of Mineral Resources.

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Reach Jessica Holdman at 701-250-8261 or jessica.holdman@bismarcktribune.com

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Business Reporter