Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (NYSE:BIP) has been growing at a fast clip over the past year, with cash flow up 28% in the first quarter, fueled by acquisitions and organic expansions. However, the global infrastructure company's pace could slow considerably in the second quarter because of a couple of headwinds. Those headwinds are among the handful of items investors should keep an eye on when the company reports its second-quarter results later this week.
Looks for less power from the utilities segment
One of the main fuels of Brookfield's high-octane growth over the past year was its acquisition of a natural gas pipeline system in Brazil from oil giant Petrobras (NYSE:PBR). That transaction helped power a 69% year-over-year increase in cash flow from its utilities segment in the first quarter of this year. However, because the deal closed in April of 2017, it won't provide as much fuel for this year's second quarter.
At the same time, Brookfield will see less growth from its Brazilian pipeline acquisition, it will face an additional headwind after selling its Chilean electricity transmission business this past March. Because of those two factors, cash flow in the company's utilities segment could head in reverse during the second quarter.
Keep an eye out for a slowdown in the transportation segment
Another important growth driver for Brookfield over the past year has been its transportation segment, especially its toll roads and rail business in Brazil. In the first quarter, these two growth drivers helped push cash flow in its transportation segment up more than 11% year over year.
However, traffic in Brazil slowed to a crawl in the second quarter because of an 11-day trucker strike in the country that paralyzed its transportation system in protest after Petrobras raised the price of diesel because of higher oil prices. That strike will likely have an impact on transportation volumes on Brookfield's toll roads and rail system in the country during the quarter, which could cause cash flow in this segment to also head in reverse.
See if it has any more deals in the pipeline
While Brookfield's growth rate could slow considerably in the second quarter, the company has spent the past several months refueling so it can reaccelerate. For starters, the company recently bought an 11% interest in Colombia's second largest gas distribution network and was working on closing the second phase of that deal to boost its stake. Meanwhile, the company formed a strategic alliance with AT&T (NYSE:T) in late June to own data centers. Brookfield and its partners will pay $1.1 billion to AT&T for several data centers around the world in a deal that will expand the company's communications infrastructure segment while providing AT&T with money to pay down debt. Finally, Brookfield and some partners recently agreed to buy Enbridge's (NYSE:ENB) natural gas gathering and processing assets in Western Canada for 4.31 billion Canadian dollars ($3.3 billion). The transaction will provide Brookfield with a business that generates stable cash flow and has solid growth prospects while giving Enbridge some cash to pay down debt.
While these transactions will consume a significant portion of Brookfield's time and available liquidity, the company could still have other acquisitions in the works. The infrastructure giant has made it known that it would like to acquire communication towers in India, more energy midstream assets in North America, and additional water infrastructure businesses. Because of that, investors should see if the company has any more deals in the pipeline.
Don't be surprised by a slowdown
There's a good chance Brookfield Infrastructure Partners' second-quarter results will show a disappointing lack of growth because it's going up against a tough comparable quarter while facing several headwinds. However, that slowdown appears as if it will be temporary since the company has several deals lined up to reaccelerate its growth rate in the coming quarters. Because of that, any post-earnings sell-off would likely be a great buying opportunity.