Otter Tail Corporation (NASDAQ:OTTR) Q4 2019 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript
Feb 18, 2020 • 11:00 am ET
Good morning and welcome to the Otter Tail Corporation's 2019 Earnings Conference Call. Today's call is being recorded and we will hold a question-and-answer session after the prepared remarks.
I will now turn the call over to the Company for opening comments.
Good morning, everyone and welcome to our call. My name is Loren Hanson and I manage Otter Tail's Investor Relations area. Last Friday, we announced our 2019 earnings results and our 2020 earnings per share guidance range. Our complete earnings release and slides accompanying this call are available on our website at ottertail.com. A replay of the call will be available on our website later today.
With me on the call today are Chuck MacFarlane, Otter Tail Corporation's President and CEO and Kevin Moug, Otter Tail Corporation's Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.
Before we begin, I want to remind you that we will be making forward-looking statements during the call. As noted on Slide 2, these statements represent our current judgment or opinion of what the future holds. They are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially. So please be advised about placing undue reliance on any of these statements. Our forward-looking statements are described in more detail in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission which we encourage you to review. Otter Tail Corporation disclaims any duty to update or revise our forward-looking statements due to new information, future events, developments or otherwise.
For opening remarks, I will now turn the call over to Otter Tail Corporation's President and CEO, Mr. Chuck MacFarlane.
Charles S. MacFarlane
Thank you, Loren and good morning, everyone. Welcome to our 2019 year-end earnings call. Please refer to Slide 5 as I begin my comments. Earnings per share were $2.17 which is above the midpoint of our updated 2019 earnings guidance of $2.10 to $2.20. Operating revenues, net income and diluted earnings per share all increased year-over-year.
Our Electric segment earnings increased primarily due to transmission costs and renewable resource rider recovery as well as final rate increases in South Dakota rate case. While Manufacturing segment earnings were relatively flat, we saw improved performance of BTD driven by growth in parts revenue. As anticipated Plastics segment earnings were lower due to lower pipe prices and lower operating margin.
Some of Otter Tail Power's 2019 accomplishments include, the Merricourt Wind Energy Center, Astoria Station, South Dakota Transmission Reliability and self-fund transmission projects all began construction.Our projected investments in those projects totals approximately $500 million. To put this into context, this represents approximately 43% of our current $1.2 billion rate base. I'll touch briefly on a few of these projects.
On Slide 16, the Merricourt Wind Energy Center remains on time and on budget. More than two-thirds of all civil work and tower foundations are complete. The project has received Minnesota Renewable Resource Rider approval, North Dakota advanced determination of prudence and South Dakota phase-in rider recovery. We estimate this project will cost approximately $258 million and will generate