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Associated Press, Published June 27 2011

MDU Resources cuts production forecast on weather

BISMARCK — MDU Resources Group Inc. said Monday it is lowering its oil and natural gas production expectations due to extensive rain and flooding around the Rocky Mountains.

The company now expects oil production will grow between 1 percent and 5 percent this year compared to 2010, down from the company's original forecast of growth in the range of 5 percent to 10 percent.

Natural gas production is now forecast to fall between 8 percent and 12 percent compared to the previous guidance of a 4 percent to 8 percent decrease for the year. Besides weather, continued low natural gas prices have led to delays in some gas development activity.

MDU reaffirmed its annual earnings prediction of between $1.05 and $1.30 per share, but it expects its second quarter earnings to come in at the low end of its previous expectations. It had said it expects to earn about 20 percent of its full year range in the second quarter, indicating a profit forecast of 21 cents to 26 cents per share.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected second-quarter earnings of 25 cents per share and full-year earnings of $1.31 per share.

The company is expected to report second quarter earnings on Aug. 1.

Its shares rose 16 cents to $22.20 in morning trading Monday.