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Executives

Terry Hildestad – President & CEO

Vernon Raile – EVP & CFO

Bill Schneider - President & CEO Knife River Corporation

Steve Bietz - President & CEO WBI Holdings

Dave Goodin - President & CEO Montana Dakota Great Plains Natural Gas, Cascade Natural & Intermountain Gas

John Harp - President & CEO MDU Construction Services Group

Doran Schwartz – VP & CAO

Analysts

Paul Paterson - Glenrock Associates

Chris Ellinghaus - Shields & Co.

Becca Followill - Tudor Pickering Holt

Paul Ridzon - KeyBanc

Nancy Doyle – Met Life

James Bellessa – DA Davidson & Co.

Scott Walker – MFS

MDU Resources Group, Inc. (MDU) Q4 2009 Earnings Call February 1, 2010 1:00 PM ET

Operator

Good afternoon, at this time I would like to welcome everyone to the MDU Resources Group 2009 year-end and 2010 guidance conference call. (Operator Instructions)

This call will be available for replay beginning at 4:00 pm Eastern Time today through 11:59 pm Eastern Time on February 16. The conference ID number for the replay is 45709171. The number to dial for the replay is 1-800-642-1687 or 706-645-9291.

I would now like to turn the conference over to Doran Schwartz, Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer of MDU Resources Group; you may begin your conference.

Doran Schwartz

Welcome to our earnings release conference call. Before I turn the presentation over to Terry Hildestad, our President and Chief Executive Officer, I would like to mention that this conference call is being broadcast live to the public over the Internet and slides will accompany our remarks. If you’d like to view the slides, go to our website at www.mdu.com and follow the link to the conference call. Our earnings release is also available on our website.

During the course of this presentation we will make certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934. Although the company believes that its expectations and beliefs are based on reasonable assumptions, actual results may differ materially.

For a discussion of factors that may cause actual results to differ, refer to Item 1A, Risk Factors, in our most recent Form 10-K as well as our Form 10-Q and the Risk Factors section in our most recent Form 8-K.

Our format today will include formal remarks by Terry followed by a Q&A session. Other members of our management team who will be available to answer questions during the Q&A session are Dave Goodin, President and CEO of Montana Dakota Great Plans Natural Gas, Cascade Natural Gas and Intermountain Gas; John Harp, President and CEO of MDU Construction Services Group; Steve Bietz, President and CEO of WBI Holdings; Bill Schneider, President and CEO of Knife River Corporation; and Nicole Kivisto, Controller for MDU Resource.

With that, I’ll turn the presentation over to Terry for his formal remarks.

Terry Hildestad

Thank you Doran, good afternoon. Before I begin as we previously announced Vernon Raile is retiring from MDU Resources effective February 16, after 30 years of outstanding service. Vernon helped to see the company through extensive growth from a small utility with revenues of $182 million to a diversified Fortune 500 company. We will miss Vernon but he will long be remembered for his contributions to MDU Resources’ success.

Now thank you for joining us today, we appreciate your interest in MDU Resources. I’d like to start by commending the employees of MDU Resources for strong operating performance in 2009. Its their expertise, innovation, and overall commitment to excellence that provided solid operating results.

Our businesses generated record operating cash flows of approximately $845 million. This performance allowed us to increase our dividend for the 19th consecutive year this past November. The results again demonstrate the value our diversified business strategy. We’re very proud of our record of consistently rewarding our shareholders with a growing dividend while also retaining earnings to fund growth opportunities.

Consolidated earnings for 2009 were $260.4 million, compared to $377.2 million a year ago. These numbers exclude the effects of the noncash ceiling charges of $384.4 million and $84.2 million respectively. The noncash charge was due to the low spot natural gas and oil prices.

Earnings per common share excluding these charges were $1.40 in 2009 compared to $2.05 for 2008. I’m pleased to report that our fourth quarter we had consolidated earnings of $72.5 million or $0.38 per share nearly equal to the earnings for the fourth quarter of 2008.

Last year’s earnings were $72.8 million or $0.40 excluding the noncash charge. Now I’ll discuss our individual company results and outlook. Our combined utility businesses reported record earnings of $54.9 million, compared to earnings of $53.5 million in 2008. The increase reflects lower operating and maintenance expense at existing operations largely payroll and benefit related costs.

The results were reflect a full year of Intermountain Gas company earnings which was acquired in October of 2008. Partially offsetting the earnings increase was the absence of a $4.4 million gain on the sale of Cascade’s Natural Gas marketing service in 2008. Our focus on integrating best practices across our four utilities involve standardization of our operations, shared services, and back office consolidation.

These efforts produced efficiencies that have reduced costs and improved services to our 950,000 customers. We continue to pursue projects for accommodating load growth and replacing purchase power contracts with company owned generation that is reliable and cost beneficial for our customers.

Last April we purchased a 25-megawatt ownership interest in Wygen III power generating facility in Gillette, Wyoming. The plant is in its final stages of construction and commissioning and is scheduled to begin on time and on budget. Commercial operation of the facility is expected during the second quarter of the year.

We currently have an application for an electric rate increase with the Wyoming Commission for $5.1 million annually to recoup the costs associated with this plant. We have a strong emphasis on renewable generation growth. Last July we began producing electricity from a 7.5 MW waste heat recovery project in North Dakota.

Construction is underway for the development of additional wind generation. The foundations at both our 19.5 MW wind generating facility in Southwest North Dakota and our 10.5 MW expansion near Baker, Montana are complete. The turbines are expected to be delivered next month with both projects commercial by mid year.

In addition we plan to complete a 2,000 dekatherm landfill biogas methane project in Billings, Montana this year. Our regulated utility was a strong contributor to our earnings and cash flows this past year and made significant progress bringing together their operations across eight states.

We expect strong steady and reliable earnings and cash flow at this operation and continue to pursue expansion opportunities. Our country’s economy presented challenges for our construction service group this year. Earnings for the year were $25.6 million compared to record earnings in 2008 of $49.8 million.

Lower construction workloads led to the decline in earnings. This was partially offset by lower general and administrative expenses, largely payroll related. This business has maintained a strict focus on costs and efficiencies, our employee count is down by more than 1600 from a year ago.

Operation and maintenance expenses declined by 38% and although our earnings were down in this business unit, overall margins for the year were higher. We announced last quarter that we were awarded the EPC contract for Montana Alberta Tie Line. Preliminary construction on the 214 mile transmission line began in December with surveying and geo technical drilling.

The job involves erecting approximately 1400 structures. These poles will carry a 230 [kilobal] power line capable of transporting 300 MW of power. In addition to connecting the power grids of Montana and Alberta this line will improve the reliability of the electric system in both regions and will enable wind developers to tie into and transport renewable energy to the marketplace.

We expect to complete the project mid year 2011. This group is developing and implementing strategies to adapt their business to the needs of the market utilizing the skills and expertise of its employees. While we expect this business to be challenged by the economy this year, we will continue to pursue new opportunities and work on the solid projects we currently have on the table.

Along with the Montana Alberta Tie Line, we’re currently working on substantial contracts related to a military human performance center in a large wastewater treatment facility. We continue to see additional job prospects in high voltage transmission construction, renewable resource construction, and military installation services.

This group’s highly skilled technical work force is prepared to take advantage of the approximate $11 billion in government stimulus spending on transmission and renewable infrastructure. At our natural gas and oil production business significantly lower commodity prices for the majority of 2009 negatively impacted our results.

Earnings for 2009 were $87.7 million compared to a $206.5 million reported in 2008 excluding the effects of the after-tax noncash charges in both years. Although we experienced some rebound in prices late last year average realized prices in 2009 for natural gas declined 30% and 42% for oil.

With our lower levels of capital investment during the year natural gas production was down 13% from the preceding year. This was partially offset in earnings from our oil production which was up 11% for the year primarily related to our focus in the Bakken region.

We currently operate 30 wells in the Bakken, and have additional interest in several non operated wells. Currently our net production from our operated and non operated interest is approximately 2500 barrels of oil per day. The Bakken is now our largest oil producing property.

In just a little over two years our net production including both operated and non operated properties is over 1.2 million barrels of oil from our Bakken interest. Our focus on gaining additional cost efficiencies and overall reduction in service costs drove down operating expenses in 2009. Our lease operating expense for the fourth quarter were $0.88. This compares favorably to $1.14 for the same period last year.

Our proved reserves at year end were 654 billion cubic feet equivalents which reflects about 100 billion cubic feet equivalent of negative reserve revisions resulting from lower natural gas prices. The benchmark prices used to calculate year end reserves were $3.87 per Henry Hub gas and $61.18 for West Texas Intermediate Oil.

Based on the SEC rules that require us to use a 12 month average pricing. Other SEC reserve related rule changes had minimal impact on our reserves. As we look ahead we expect to invest approximately $375 million for further expansion of our existing properties, exploratory drilling, and acquisition of properties.

With the reduced 2009 and the forecasted 2010 capital expenditures we expect our combined natural gas and oil production for 2010 to be approximately equal to 2009 levels. Our drilling plans for this year include 120 wells in our Baker and [Bedouin] field, these legacy properties have been producing for over 80 years, they have low development and operational costs.

This continues to make the area very viable. In South and East Texas, we will continue the completion work we started last quarter and we plan to drill about 20 wells. We will continue our strong focus on the prolific Bakken play with a capital investment of approximately $45 million this year.

Our current acreage position in the Bakken is approximately 16,000 net acres in the southern Mountrail County. We have one rig in operation, our drill time from spud date to rig release is about 20 to 25 days. Our current completion plans include 14 stage fracs when drilling on 1280 acre spacing.

We currently have plans to drill 13 wells this year along with continuing to participate in non operated activities. In addition to the Bakken formation the deeper three fork [inaudible] formation could create additional potential over much of our acreage. As mentioned last quarter we’re planning a test well in 2010 to better evaluate what if any communication there may be between the two formations.

We are continuing to evaluate various growth and acquisition opportunities. We have included approximately $150 million in our capital forecast for this growth and acquisition opportunity. Included in our product guidance is 3.5 to 4 Bcf equivalents associated with these growth opportunities.

Our hedging strategy is designed to help minimize earnings volatility while leaving some upside potential in pricing. Our hedge position in 2009 provided significant benefits to offset the lower price environment. As of February 1 our hedge position for 2010 includes 45% to 50% for both our estimated natural gas and oil production.

Our natural gas and oil business is well positioned to expand our solid portfolio of long-term properties to exploratory and reserve acquisitions. Now turning to our pipeline in energy service operations, earnings increased 44% to a record level of $37.8 million. The improvement reflects increased volumes transported to storage, higher storage service revenues, and higher gathering rates as well as lower operation and maintenance expenses.

The natural gas market conditions, transportation and storage services were in great demand last year. Total transportation volumes increased 18% to record levels largely driven by volumes transported to storage and our ending customer storage balance doubled from one year ago. Not only did this group have a strong financial year but they expanded operationally as well and in August our grasslands pipeline reached its ultimate firm capacity of 213 million cubic feet through a 75 million cubic foot expansion.

This will provide a long-term benefit increasing our system transportation capacity for the Rocky Mountain natural gas producers looking to access mid continent markets. Also in August we expanded our energy service portfolio through the purpose of the assets of Total Corrosion Solutions. This enhances our service offerings to our existing customers.

This group continues to pursue expansion of facilities and services offered to customers as a part of our long-term growth strategy, we’re pursuing the expansion of our firm deliverability and related transportation capacity for the Baker storage field. Baker field is the largest natural gas storage reservoir in North America and we continue to pursue opportunities to develop takeaway capacity from the Bakken area.

Our pipeline and energy service group is an essential part of our integrated natural gas system. We continue to experience strong demand for our transportation and storage services and look to further expand our operations. Now moving to our construction materials and contracting business, despite the continued weakness of the national construction market, earnings increased 57% to $47.1 million.

The year over year growth reflects higher liquid asphalt, oil and asphalt volumes and margins and higher aggregate margins. Also contributing to the earnings improvement was our aggressive cost management focus to lower selling, general and administrative costs. We’re very pleased with this group’s performance this year.

Our employees worked hard to maintain market share and capitalize on our products and geographic diversity. We expanded our operations organically by adding asphalt plants in Idaho and Texas and expanded our energy service operations. We were able to experience a bottom line boost this year through niche opportunities such as delivering frac sand to eight natural gas and oil drillers in our Texas market.

In addition most of the markets we operate experienced positive impacts related to federal stimulus spending. As we look forward to 2010 we’re optimistic about the opportunities that lie ahead for this business. We will continue our strong emphasis on operational efficiencies and cost controls.

We’re in a great position to take advantage of the federal transportation funding. There continues to be a large portion of federal stimulus funding yet to be spent. As of early January only 21% of the $7.9 billion allocated to the states we operate in have been spent. There is an additional potential for federal transportation funding that our government will be discussing in great detail in the near future.

In 2010 federal transportation funding may be further enhanced beyond the stimulus funding through the pending jobs bill which currently includes $27 billion in funding for highways and bridges. We continue to actively pursue opportunities to expand our business with a strong focus on material. We intend to expand our liquid asphalt business this year, and we’re well positioned to grow through acquisitions.

We have the employees and the equipment necessary to be competitive in the current market, we have adapted our skills to keep us financially strong, we have a strong market share in airport work in our efforts in the energy industry have included projects for wind farms, refineries, geothermal and power plants.

Our backlog going into this year is up slightly compared to a year ago, at $459 million. As the nation’s eighth largest aggregate producer we continue to position ourselves as a strong market leader strategically managing our 1.1 billion tonnes of aggregate reserves.

On a consolidated basis we’re pleased with our operating performance in 2009, especially considering the low commodity prices, the high unemployment, and the weak construction market, which have troubled our country’s economy throughout the year. Our business units managed their capital expenditures within their cash flows, maintained a close eye on costs and overall generated another year of record operating cash flows.

We are financially disciplined and focused on providing our shareholders with solid short and long-term performance through a combination of our dividend payment and price appreciation. Our total annual average shareholder return at December 31, on a one, 10, and 20 year basis was 13%. Our five year return was 8%, exceeding that of the S&P 500 and the S&P mid cap 400.

We have confidence that our 2010 program will continue to deliver value for our shareholders. We’re providing initial guidance for the year in the range of $1.10 to $1.35. As has been our practice we will monitor our markets and update you on earnings guidance as we move through the year.

Our financial condition is very healthy because of our aggressive efforts to lower operating costs and preserve capital. We have a strong balance sheet with equity 63% of our total capital and liquidity with access to capital. We’re in an excellent position to take advantage of growth opportunities resulting from this prolonged recession including organic growth and acquisitions of businesses and reserves of natural gas, oil, and aggregates because of the lower values.

We are looking forward to 2010 with a number of growth opportunities for all our business units. I want to thank you for your time today and we’d be happy to open the lines up to questions at this time.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

(Operator Instructions) Your first question comes from the line of Paul Paterson - Glenrock Associates

Paul Paterson - Glenrock Associates

On the construction services business could you give us a little more flavor of the MATL impact on the backlog at year end and just also provide us an update on the Fontainebleau bankruptcy and how you see that working out.

John Harp

The MATL project you’re talking about is in our backlog as part of that $383 million. As far as Fontainebleau goes late last week the Judge awarded the Fontainebleau project to Carl Icon who is really the stocking horse person in the bankruptcy proceedings. They were anticipating an auction on that property and there were two bidders that were disqualified by the Court, so Carl Icon ended up with the property for a little over $150 million and he hasn’t come out directly in saying what he’ll do with that property as far as finishing the project and closing it or where that might end up being.

Paul Paterson - Glenrock Associates

So until we get that we really won’t have that good a picture as to what’s going to happen there is that how we should look at that.

John Harp

Yes.

Paul Paterson - Glenrock Associates

Okay and with the MATL what should we think of the impact that had on the backlog, how much did that add to backlog.

John Harp

I think it was right around $118 million I think it was.

Paul Paterson - Glenrock Associates

You also mentioned that that asphalt margin looks to be a little bit lower and I think the asphalt margin was supposed to benefit or was benefiting to a certain degree from stimulus spending, so it sounds like stimulus spending, we got a lot more in 2010 than we do in 2009 set up and it looks like the asphalt margins are projected to go down, can you give us a little more flavor what’s going on there.

Bill Schneider

It’s the issue on the asphalt oil, we have an unusual circumstance in the Midwest in 2009 where we had index pricing was being pushed by one of our competitors and the contractors of course did not like taking the risk of bidding work at one month and then not knowing what the price would be when the work actually started maybe two or three months later.

So consequently we put fixed pricing out in the market and we were able to pick up some good market share margin because of that. As we go into the 2010 season, we don’t see that same circumstance taking place so the margins will probably come back to more traditional margins but I will tell you this, we’re optimistic on the volumes of the amount of work that’s out there.

We’re very encouraged by what’s happening with the jobs bill and we’re maybe being a little conservative on the forecast for the margins for the asphalt business but overall we’re optimistic for the asphalt market.

Paul Paterson - Glenrock Associates

When we look at the stimulus 80% I guess approximately still has to be spent in your area, do you think most of that will happen in 2010 or how should we think about that in terms of how much of a benefit that’s going to be providing.

Bill Schneider

I think its going to be split between 2010 and 2011 and then keep in mind now that the $27 billion that’s targeted within the jobs build for highway and infrastructure spending that would basically double the amount of the stimulus money that’s out there right now. So, you have really three components, the traditional federal highway bill, then you have the stimulus spending and then you have the jobs bill.

You total that all up and for the next two years we could see almost double the amount of federal government spending on infrastructure.

Paul Paterson - Glenrock Associates

And then finally the production [EMP] it sounded like other than the $375 million that you have budgeted, that there was some additional growth opportunities on top of that if I read that correctly, can you give us a little bit more flavor as to what we might be seeing there or what you are kicking around or is it just too early to say.

Steve Bietz

Kind of in addition to the $375 we’re looking at a number of opportunities, we’re looking to try to expand our acreage position in the Bakken area, where we’ve got a great deal of expertise. We’re looking throughout the Rockies, the Gulf Coast area, and I guess we’re not limiting ourselves to the $375 today. We’re looking for those opportunities and as time goes on hopefully we can bring some of those to add value into our company.

Paul Paterson - Glenrock Associates

Any idea what the size might be.

Steve Bietz

They could vary quite a bit, I’m not going to speculate on the size of those.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Chris Ellinghaus - Shields & Co.

Chris Ellinghaus - Shields & Co.

Can you just add a little color to the guidance in terms of what it is that leads you to be as conservative as you are at the moment.

Doran Schwartz

As we take a look at the guidance its $1.10 t0 $1.35, that’s about a nickel from where we were at this time last year. I think its been our typical practice to come out of the gate, we’ve got a lot of assumptions as we take a look at the year that we tend to provide you with more feedback on as we go through the year and replace forecasted data with more actual data.

Commodity prices certainly are a big piece of that, as well as weather, the potential impact from acquisitions would certainly be a factor. So there’s a variety of different things I guess that lead us to provide the guidance where we’re at now and then provide you with feedback or updates as we go through the year.

Chris Ellinghaus - Shields & Co.

I don’t think in the press release you said anything or made any comments about revenues or margins at construction materials, you have any comments on that.

Bill Schneider

As you can see from 2009 to 2008 we were only down about 7% on a revenue and as you know our backlog is about the same or slightly higher than it was a year ago so we should be in the same range I think of volume of work. Maybe the upside would come with the jobs bill if that passes like we expect it to you can see some upside for us on the revenue side.

Chris Ellinghaus - Shields & Co.

Anything about margins.

Bill Schneider

I’ll just be straight up with you, the market is tough out there but I think we’re doing a good job on our estimating and then the other thing is is I know we’re doing exceptionally well with the incentive pay that we get from the state agencies for the quality of our work. So that’s a plus as well.

Chris Ellinghaus - Shields & Co.

Can you comment about the flat production expectation, do you feel that the level of CapEx that you’re projecting is more than adequate to sort of get you to a place of positive production growth later in the year.

Steve Bietz

I think we’ve come out with guidance approximately equal to last year, one of the factors in there is the timing of the capital, when does it get spent and how quickly do you get production on line. Recall a number of our operated properties we’ve been not had a lot of activity going on so we’re kind of ramping up in some of the areas with the weather and so forth.

We’re going to have to wait to spring to do that. So I guess in terms of this year, the $375 we think gives us a good opportunity to keep production flat and grow as we go into the future.

Chris Ellinghaus - Shields & Co.

One last thing, when can we expect to hear about a Big Stone project replacement.

Dave Goodin

We announced back in November 2 the Big Stone project being cancelled, I’d like to remind you that we’ve really got already existing contracts in place for a capacity for all of our native load customers through really May of 2015. So that gives us virtually a five year kind of window if you will to kind of fine tune our plans. We are building out wind as we speak so far as expansion of project in Montana, one is southeastern North Dakota, had a little bit of renewables last year.

We have the Wygen plant on our western system, so we’re adding some generation but we’ve really got a five year window here with which to replace Big Stone which was really the construction period for Big Stone and so that’s a long answer but really it’s a work in progress. Today’s environment we all know we’re uncertainty from cap and trade etc. We’re going to be watching that.

If we were to make something today, probably some wind gas combination but its really too early yet. We want to see what the national landscape looks like.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Becca Followill - Tudor Pickering Holt

Becca Followill - Tudor Pickering Holt

Following up on Chris’ question on the guidance you did $1.40 this year, your guidance the midpoint is lower than that and obviously the street was looking for something higher judging by this reaction today, [E&P] volumes look flat, pricing is comparable, utility is probably flat to up, so I would assume this delta in the decline in your guidance is construction materials and construction services, is that fair.

Terry Hildestad

We don’t break out our guidance by company. I think its reflective of a lot of things in the construction segment, that’s a challenged environment right now. There are lots of factors that are coming into play here. Bill talked about them on the stimulus. Weather enters in. And it’s a tough environment out there. So it’s a combination across the group.

Becca Followill - Tudor Pickering Holt

Just again, I hate to keep pushing but the markets obviously surprised by this, when you read through the release there’s a lot of language that says we are prepared to take advantage of the stimulus, is it just being conservative and not knowing when those stimulus funds are going to flow through, is that part of why you’re going out the gate kind of cautious.

Terry Hildestad

We’ve looked at our guidance over the last several years, and I think you probably followed us as well. The last year we got a similar reaction. Its just that we will look at the business environment, we’ve done that now, this is our best guess today. We’ll update it as the year goes on. We have historically done that. And I think, and we keep you well informed.

Becca Followill - Tudor Pickering Holt

On the EMP side the $150 million that you’ve earmarked in your budge and have been saying there may be other opportunities is there something specific you already have in mind or is it just we’re targeting that we want to do something.

Terry Hildestad

We’ve got a number of projects that we’re looking at and some are further along than others. I guess with what we have looked at in the various regions we’ve looked at we think we’ve got some good opportunity to execute on one of those in that range of $150 million or so.

Becca Followill - Tudor Pickering Holt

And then clearly significant negative reserve revision, at what price would those reserves come back on the book.

Terry Hildestad

Last year our reserve price at Henry Hub I think were in the $5.70. I didn’t really do a sensitivity to see when they come on but in that $5.70 to say $6.00 the [inaudible] will come back on.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Paul Ridzon - KeyBanc

Paul Ridzon - KeyBanc

Is the $150 embedded in the $375 or is it incremental.

Terry Hildestad

Its imbedded or included so I guess $225 plus $150.

Paul Ridzon - KeyBanc

How much, what percent of your backlog is stimulus money.

Bill Schneider

Right now about 15% of our backlog is stimulus.

Paul Ridzon - KeyBanc

And what are you seeing as far as hit rates on what you’re bidding, is it still 20% or so.

Bill Schneider

I would say that’s good on average.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Nancy Doyle – Met Life

Nancy Doyle – Met Life

Could you just describe your outlook for your operating cash flow next year and whether you see that covering your cash needs, your CapEx, your dividend, and if it doesn’t what are your plans for covering the difference.

Doran Schwartz

As we take a look at next year, as you can see in the press release our CapEx forecast is around $618 million. We’re expecting operating cash flow in our forecast right now to be somewhat less than that, probably under $600 million or so. But again I go back to how do we make up the difference there. We come into 2010 in really good shape.

Again, I think thanks to Vernon and his stewardship of the balance sheet we’ve got a very strong balance sheet with a lot of equity, 63% of our cap structure. We’re very liquid, we’ve got $600 million of capacity on our various lines of credit and commercial paper programs. And from the record operating cash flow in 2009 we have a fair amount of cash on our balance sheet coming into 2010.

Nancy Doyle – Met Life

Do you plan to do any term debt financing next year for this year.

Doran Schwartz

Not at this time.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of James Bellessa – DA Davidson & Co.

James Bellessa – DA Davidson & Co.

The construction materials business declined in profits in the most recent quarter was probably an effect of weather and lower volumes for public construction margins, volumes and lower public construction margins, my question is is how much was weather impacted, can you tell us approximately what that might have been.

Bill Schneider

It did provide a significant impact, we got hit with a lot of rain down in Texas and of course because of the warmer weather we can work in the fourth quarter and then we also got hit in the mountain and the north central states. The other thing I would add to that is I don’t think the fourth quarter would be indicative of what we see for the 2010 season. We got hit with the weather but we don’t see that in terms of a downward trend in the last quarter as being indicative of what the season is going to hold for us in 2010.

James Bellessa – DA Davidson & Co.

I heard you say that there was the possibility of expanding acreage in the Bakken but I understood that you’ve sold properties there in the last year, year and a half, so why would you have sold now buyback or buy some new ones, new acreage.

Steve Bietz

We’re certainly looking to maximize our investments in the Bakken, based on the various performance that we saw with our acreage that we sold last year, kind of the lease terms and so forth, we saw a good opportunity to monetize some of that and are looking to reinvest that in other areas in the Bakken that have potentially larger upside for us.

Operator

Your final question comes from the line of Scott Walker – MFS

Scott Walker – MFS

I just wanted to clarify something from the EMP division, the $375 million for CapEx, if I backed out the $150 for growth is that flat production or does the $375 all in assume flat production from 2009 levels.

Doran Schwartz

Our guidance is based on the $375 all in and that would include production associated with that $150 million.

Operator

There are no additional questions at this time; I would like to turn it back over to management for any additional or closing comments.

Terry Hildestad

Thank you all for participating today. Really as we look forward to the year, we’re optimistic regarding the growth opportunities at all our business segments. We have solid organic growth opportunities as well as we talked about some acquisition opportunities. Our balance sheet is strong, Doran covered our liquidity and our cash flow so we’re again going into the year in good strong shape.

We will update you on guidance as we move through the year as we have in previous years. Look forward to talking to you again. Thanks.

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Source: MDU Resources Group, Inc. Q4 2009 Earnings Call Transcript
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