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MDU Resources' (MDU) Investments & Liquidity Status Bode Well

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MDU Resources Group, Inc.’s (MDU - Free Report) two-platform business model, strategic acquisitions, capital investments in the electric and natural gas utility, and an increasing backlog are helping the utility fortify its existing operations. Also, the company has enough liquidity to meet its near-term obligations.

Shares of the presently Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) company have gained 30.6%, outperforming the industry's rally of 20.9% in the past year. The utility’s long-term (three to five years) earnings growth rate is pegged at 6.94%.

One-Year Price Performance

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What’s Boosting the Stock?

MDU Resources’ two-platform business structure comprising the regulated energy delivery arm, and the construction materials and services unit includes different operating segments. This strategy supports in balancing out the industry-related seasonality risks that erode demand.

After spending $648 million in 2020, the utility spent $283.2 million in the first half of 2021. However, it reduced its investment plans to $806 million from $810.5 million in the ongoing year. It aims to spend $3,027 million during the 2021-2025 forecast period, which will increase the reliability of its services and enable it to cater to a growing customer base, effectively. The company expects its rate base to see a 5% CAGR over the next five years.

At the end of the June quarter, backlog for construction materials stood at $912 million while that of the construction services business was $1.32 billion. In the first quarter of 2021, the construction materials business acquired Mt. Hood Rock to expand its aggregates operation in Portland and also got the permission to extend its activities at a Texas aggregate quarry.

As of Jun 30, 2021, the utility had cash and cash equivalents worth $58 million and an available borrowing capacity of $611.8 million under its outstanding credit facilities. This shows that the company currently has sufficient liquidity to meet its near-term debt obligations.

Woes

The company’s electric and natural gas transmission, and distribution businesses are governed by the federal, state and local administrative agencies. Changes in these strict regulations or additional rules could inflate the company’s overall expenses depending on the extent of its investments. Moreover, an aging infrastructure and stiff competition remain concerns.

Other Stocks to Consider

A few other top-ranked utilities are Otter Tail Corporation (OTTR - Free Report) , Middlesex Water Company (MSEX - Free Report) and California Water Service Group (CWT - Free Report) . While Otter Tail flaunts a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), the other two carry a Zacks Rank of 2 at present. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Otter Tail has a long-term (three to five years) earnings growth rate of 4.70%. The company delivered a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 31.79%, on average.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Middlesex Water Company’s 2021 earnings has moved 3.7% up north the past two months. The company delivered a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 0.51%, on average.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for California Water’s 2021 earnings has been revised 2.9% upward in the past two months. The company delivered a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 15.36%, on average.