I am retired and take educated guesses on all things financial.

January 17, 2008

January 18, 2008: A Port In A Storm: MDU Resources Group

Ouch. Gentle Ben being too gentle. Share prices falling in a reverse "hand over fist". Recession? Depression? Stagflation?

As investors head for safety, I think one overlooked stock to consider in this environment is MDU Resources Group (MDU). Trading at $25.85 with a PE of 11.7, a 2.3%yield and a market cap of $5 billion, MDU is a relatively unknown and unappreciated infrastructure, basic materials and natural resource play. The company, headquartered in Bismarck, ND consists of five parts:

Natural gas and oil production in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, the Gulf of Mexico and Alabama under the auspices of Fidelity Exploration and Production.

Construction materials and mining in Texas, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska under the auspices of the Knife River Corporation.

Natural Gas pipelines and energy services in Canada, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming under the auspices of WBI Holdings, Inc.

Electric and gas utilities in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota under the auspices of Montana-Dakota Utilities Company and Cascade Natural Gas Corporation.

Construction services in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Montana, Colorado, Arizona, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma,Texas, Missouri, Louisiana,Illinois, Ohio and Florida under the auspices of MDU Construction Services Group, Inc.

MDU Resources has a management team that appears to be wise,allowing each facet of the group to manage towards respective strengths and to re-invest profits purchasing entities as diverse as Cascade Natural Gas, asphalt plants in California and, recently, 97 billion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves in Texas (for $235 million).

This is not a growth company. It is a value stock that continues to enhance its portfolio reaching out to buy assets the Buffet way, businesses they understand on the the cheap for long term results.

With Congress ready to pounce on an economic incentive package, I see lots of cash being thrown at public works projects (infrastructure), low and middle income subsidies or credits (utility bill assistance, fuel subsidies, etc.). This will benefit MDU.

MDU's geographic center is not likely to experience the worst of a possible recession.

MDU is diversified to profit from just about any economic scenario.

Importantly, MDU is not ignoring the siren call of going green. It is developing substantial wind power electric generation capabilities along with politically correct projects in other areas of the company. A smart move considering today's global warming frenzy.

MDU has a lot going for it. You may want to take a look. www.

DISCLOSURE: The author holds MDU Resources Group in his Permanent Portfolio.

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