Track the companies that matter to you. It's FREE! Click one of these fan favorites to get started: Apple; Google; Ford.



Could India's Election Be an Opportunity for Caterpillar?

One area that has been a major drag on India's economic growth over the last decade has been its infrastructure. In the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014, India ranked No. 85 out of 139 for infrastructure. According to a PriceWaterhouseCooper's report, India's urban population in the cities of Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, and Bangalore is expected to increase to 500 million by 2017. Additionally, by 2030 the country is expected to have 68 cities with populations of more than 1 million. Thus investment in infrastructure such as roads, railways, and power grids is imperative.

The same report noted that previous government had called for more than $1 trillion in new spending through 2017. Such proposed spending projects include 6,000 miles of new roads, new airports, and increased production of solar, wind, and nuclear energy. Given these lofty goals, India would seem an attractive market for the infrastructure business. However, the business environment in India is anything but ideal. Obstacles include unpredictable regulations and bureaucratic delays in approving projects and granting land rights. In addition, corruption has been a major problem in India, which ranked No. 94 out of 177 in Transparency International's Corruptions Perception Index for 2013. Consequently, many investors have passed over the nation for other opportunities.

After the BJP -- commonly known as the "Indian People's Party" -- won by a landslide in India's recent election, Narendra Modi was sworn into office as India's 15th prime minister. In his campaign, he promised to reduce the top levels of government in order to remove some of the bureaucratic red tape that has hindered the country's development. So far, his cabinet appointments have reflected this pro-business and pro-action mentality. Arun Jaitley was tapped to become India's new finance minister. Jaitley had previously served as the commerce minister from 2003 to 2004, and in that short time he helped open India up to foreign investment by increasing overseas ownership in the bank, media, and energy sectors. 

Modi selected Nitin Gadkari as his minister of transport. From 1995 to 1999, Gadkari served as the Public Works Department minister in the state of Maharashtra, where he is credited with improving the state's roadways. Moreover, he successfully dealt with regulatory obstacles in order to complete projects such as the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, as well as 55 flyover bridges in Mumbai. His appointment underscores Modi's intention to improve India's infrastructure and reduce bureaucratic hurdles.

Enter Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT  ) . In its 2014 Q1 report, the company noted that sales 12% year over year in the Asia-Pacific region. However, this decrease owed primarily to declines in mining equipment, which fell 50% from the previous year in that region. By contrast, construction sales in that region increased by 12% year over year, which puts Cat in a much better position than competitor Joy Global (NYSE: JOY  ) , whose entire operation consists of mining.

Joy has found success in China, which is the world's larger consumer of coal. However, Joy is unlikely to have similar success in India, even though the country is poised to surpass China as the leading coal-consumer as soon as this year. More than 90% of the coal mined in India is mined by government-owned companies. The role played by private companies is limited for the purpose of self-consumption, e.g., steel production or power generation, so Joy faces a high barrier to entry in India. 

Caterpillar's boost in Asia-Pacific construction sales doubtless owes primarily to China, which invested $2.7 billion in construction projects last year and is reportedly on track to exceed that investment this year. Caterpillar's market share in China stands at roughly 6.3%. By contrast, in India Caterpillar is only a major supplier of wheeled loaders, crawler dozers, and motor graders. The infrastructure improvements that the country needs will require more excavators, backhoe loaders, and dump trucks, of which Cat has the highest quality in the world.

With a clear majority in the Parliament of India favoring a pro-business platform, the opportunity for Caterpillar to break ground on more infrastructure projects seems significant. Through reductions in interest rates and a friendlier FDI environment of more tax credits and less red tape, Caterpillar seems to be in the perfect position to supply India's construction-related demand. The only wild card that remains is the extent to which Modi can turn his pro-growth and anti-corruption rhetoric into action.

Will this stock be your next multibagger?
Give us five minutes and we'll show how you could own the best stock for 2014. Every year, The Motley Fool's chief investment officer hand-picks one stock with outstanding potential. But it's not just any run-of-the-mill company. It's a stock perfectly positioned to cash in on one of the upcoming year's most lucrative trends. Last year his pick skyrocketed 134%. And previous top picks have gained upwards of 908%, 1,252% and 1,303% over the subsequent years! Believe me, you don't want to miss what could be his biggest winner yet! Just click here to download your free copy of "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2014" today.

Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (2)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2972889, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 8/29/2015 9:01:47 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Joe Lepera

Joe is a Freelance Writer at The Motley Fool. His primary interest is in economics trends and stocks that have a stake in them. You can follow Joe on Twitter at @Lepera_Joe and on CAPS at Lepera347.

Today's Market

updated 11 hours ago Sponsored by:
DOW 16,643.01 -11.76 -0.07%
S&P 500 1,988.87 1.21 0.06%
NASD 4,828.33 15.62 0.32%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

8/28/2015 4:00 PM
CAT $75.95 Up +0.29 +0.38%
Caterpillar, Inc. CAPS Rating: ***
JOY $24.01 Down -0.30 -1.23%
Joy Global, Inc. CAPS Rating: ****