Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (NYSE: BIP ) may not be the best-known stock on Wall Street, but then again, most Fools prefer stocks that stay under the radar. The timber and electrical transmission company released earnings last week to a distracted world audience. Let's see what the market missed.
After reporting a loss for the third quarter of 2008 on severe weakness from its timberlands segment, Brookfield Infrastructure closed out the year with a net profit of $21.7 million. Adjusted net operating income was $11.1 million, up more than 140% from last year's fourth quarter. On a pro forma basis, the company's full-year adjusted net operating income increased from $52.2 million to $63.3 million. In a year that sent Wall Street into panic and rocked major timberlands players such as Weyerhaeuser (NYSE: WY ) to the core, I found these results remarkably upbeat.
The same meltdown in North American construction demand that makes me want to run and hide from material producers like USG (NYSE: USG ) and Louisiana-Pacific (NYSE: LPX ) stripped a reasonable 20% chunk from Brookfield Infrastructure's 2008 results from timber operations, compared to 2007. The company has reduced harvesting efforts in its timberlands to maintain inventory value through this difficult period. That's precisely the type of reduced activity that I think will affect railroad operators like Canadian National Railway (NYSE: CNI ) in the months to come.
Meanwhile, Brookfield Infrastructure recorded improvement from electrical transmission assets in Chile, on higher transmission rates. The company continues to diversify its asset base, and it recently acquired the right to develop $400 million worth of transmission assets in Texas in a joint venture with a French engineering company.
Barely a year after the company's IPO in a spinoff from Global Gains selection Brookfield Asset Management (NYSE: BAM ) , Brookfield Infrastructure recently lost its co-CEO Aaron Regent, who was lured away for the prestigious top spot at Barrick Gold (NYSE: ABX ) . With a newly consolidated management structure, a hefty dividend yield of 7.9% at the current share price, and a stated intention to leverage liquidity into growth opportunities, I believe that Brookfield Infrastructure deserves a little publicity.