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3 Infrastructure Stocks to Buy Right Now

By John Bromels - Jul 14, 2020 at 9:44AM

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In times of market turmoil, top infrastructure companies are a smart pick.

Although it may seem like the turmoil on Wall Street has subsided, the stock market is still a volatile place right now. The normal range of the rolling VIX volatility index is between 10 and 20; today, it's sitting at about 30. That's higher than almost any point between 2013 and 2019.

If you're concerned about how the volatility might affect your portfolio, you should consider investing in infrastructure like telecom lines and towers, energy and utility networks, and roads and railways. These assets tend to be stable cash generators that can provide ballast to your portfolio.

Three infrastructure investments to consider right now include Brookfield Infrastructure (BIPC 0.80%) (BIP 0.41%), Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure (AY -0.40%), and Markel (MKL 2.69%). Here's why they look like good picks today.

A network of interconnected dots over a nighttime cityscape.

Image source: Getty Images.

Dividend and infrastructure

For investors craving stability, Brookfield Infrastructure -- which can be purchased as traditional stock shares or as master limited partnership (MLP) units -- seems to have it all.

The company's outstanding management team from Brookfield Asset Management (BAM -0.17%) has a solid track record of filling its $77 billion portfolio with quality, high-performing assets. These include a geographically diversified group of communications, energy, and transportation assets, including the recently acquired Genesee & Wyoming railroad in the U.S., and Jio's telecom towers in India. 

Brookfield Infrastructure's MLP units currently yield 5.1%, while the newly issued corporate shares are expected to offer a similar yield. Because about 95% of the company's cash flow comes from assets operated under regulated or fixed contracts, Brookfield should have no problems supporting that payout. It's also expected to grow by between 5% and 9% per year as Brookfield's management team grows its portfolio. Brookfield is a top infrastructure pick. 

Higher dividend and different infrastructure

If you thought a 5.1% dividend yield was good, you'll think a 5.5% dividend yield is even better. High payouts are to be expected from renewable yieldcos like Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure (it was even formerly named "Atlantica Yield"). The company operates solar and wind farms, electric lines, and water desalinization assets in locations across the globe.

Atlantica focuses on securing long-term contracts for its assets, which results in stable cash flow. And when I say "long-term," I mean long-term: the nearest expiration date for any of Atlantica's contracts is for a solar farm in Spain that expires in 2032. A majority of Atlantica's contracts don't expire until 2036 or later.

Atlantica's shares plummeted in March along with the rest of the market, but they've swiftly recovered ground, and are only about 8% off their February highs. Investors probably shouldn't wait to buy into this high yielder with great growth potential.

No dividend, no infrastructure

It's true: our next company pays no dividend and isn't an infrastructure company. Markel is actually an insurance company, offering specialty insurance and reinsurance in a wide variety of areas. It's sometimes referred to as the "Baby Berkshire," due to its similarities to Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A 1.35%) (BRK.B 1.26%)

Like Berkshire and other insurance companies, Markel generates income by selling insurance policies. Unlike many insurers, which invest nearly all that cash in stable but low-yielding bonds, Markel puts a lot of its cash in a large stock portfolio. Sometimes it even buys other businesses outright through its Markel Ventures program. 

Right now, insurance companies like Markel have been clobbered by the market, and indeed, Markel is trading at less than 1.3 times its book value, near an all-time low. However, Markel's stock portfolio includes shares of infrastructure asset managers like Brookfield Asset Management and KKR, as well as infrastructure companies like railroad Norfolk & Southern. These stocks are trading at 1.8 times, 3.3 times, and 2.9 times book value, respectively. So buying Markel is a bit like picking up a tiny bit of these other companies on the cheap. Oh, and the "Baby Berkshire" owns a half-billion dollars' worth of the actual Berkshire, as well.

Prior to the March market crash, the last time Markel's share price was below $1,000/share was early 2017. While it will almost certainly take time to recover, patient infrastructure investors may want to take the opportunity to jump in now.

In case of emergency

Of course, if the broader stock market plunges again, even investments like Brookfield, Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure, and Markel may see their share prices tumble. However, these stable infrastructure investments will likely have less downside risk than stocks in many other sectors. They should help keep your portfolio relatively secure, even when the economic waters get choppy. 

John Bromels owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway (B shares) and Brookfield Infrastructure Partners. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), Brookfield Asset Management, and Markel. The Motley Fool recommends Brookfield Infrastructure, Brookfield Infrastructure Partners, and KKR and recommends the following options: short September 2020 $200 calls on Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), short January 2021 $200 puts on Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), and long January 2021 $200 calls on Berkshire Hathaway (B shares). The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Brookfield Asset Management Inc. Stock Quote
Brookfield Asset Management Inc.
BAM
$53.07 (-0.17%) $0.09
Brookfield Infrastructure Partners L.P. Stock Quote
Brookfield Infrastructure Partners L.P.
BIP
$41.40 (0.41%) $0.17
Markel Corporation Stock Quote
Markel Corporation
MKL
$1,263.62 (2.69%) $33.15
Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure plc Stock Quote
Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure plc
AY
$35.33 (-0.40%) $0.14
Brookfield Infrastructure Corporation Stock Quote
Brookfield Infrastructure Corporation
BIPC
$48.20 (0.80%) $0.38
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Stock Quote
Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
BRK.A
$461,300.00 (1.35%) $6,130.00
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Stock Quote
Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
BRK.B
$306.65 (1.26%) $3.83
Norfolk Southern Corporation Stock Quote
Norfolk Southern Corporation
NSC
$257.61 (0.21%) $0.55
KKR & Co. Stock Quote
KKR & Co.
KKR
$57.20 (-0.56%) $0.32
Genesee & Wyoming Inc. Stock Quote
Genesee & Wyoming Inc.
GWR

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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