With stock price rises of 76% to 209% over the last year, agriscience experts Corteva (NYSE:CTVA), engineering consultancy AECOM (NYSE:ACM), and heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning experts (HVAC) company Carrier Global (NYSE:CARR) have arguably already made investors rich. However, I think there could be a lot more to come from all three in the coming years. Here's why.
Why Corteva can make you rich
Corteva was created out of the DowDuPont merger. DuPont's expertise in seeds was combined with Dow's crop protection specialty to create a company that generates around 55% of its sales from seeds and traits and 45% from crop protection. The investment case for the stock rests on the three interrelated factors.
First, management will continue to execute its plan to cut structural costs and enhance productivity following the merger. For example, Corteva generated $230 million in cost and productivity actions in 2020, and management expects a further $250 million in 2021. For reference, operating earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) was $2.1 billion in 2020, so these cost actions are significant and help to enable growth investments.
Second, Corteva has a significant opportunity to expand profit margins by reducing its royalty payments to other companies as it grows the share of its seed sales coming from seeds using its own germplasm and in-licensed traits. Management sees an opportunity to cut royalty payments by $400 million over time. Also, Corteva plans to significantly increase the share of its crop protection sales coming from patented and "differentiated" sources from 14% and 10% in 2018 to 34% and 16% by 2023 -- something that should increase the quality of its earnings and give it more pricing power.
Third, Corteva aims to grow sales of its Enlist soybean seeds and crop protection system. Competition is fierce, but management believes it can achieve a 50% market share over time compared to 20% share in 2020.
All told, the company has plenty of revenue and margin expansion opportunities, and analysts expect it to increase EBITDA by 50% to more than $3 billion by 2023, potentially putting the stock at an enterprise value (market cap plus debt) to EBITDA multiple of 10 times EBITDA in 2023. That's an excellent multiple for a stock with double-digit earnings growth prospects.
Why AECOM can make you rich
The case for engineering consultancy AECOM rests on a combination of confidence that an infrastructure bill will boost its long-term growth prospects and that its restructuring plan will be executed successfully.
AECOM's three biggest end markets are transportation, facilities, and environment and water. As such, it's a play on an infrastructure bill not least as the U.S. needs to upgrade roads, transportation facilities, bridges, dams, and other water infrastructure. Also, increasing environmental regulation ensures long-term demand growth for AECOM's environmental services.
AECOM has a growth opportunity through its ongoing plan to slim down and focus on its core competencies. It's a playbook established by its peer Jacobs Engineering Group, and if AECOM can achieve its aim, then there's no reason why it can't close the valuation gap with Jacobs.
Why Carrier Global can make you rich
Leading HVAC company Carrier Global came out of the former United Technologies. The case for the stock hinges on the company's ability to cut costs and grow revenue.
Management is on track with its so-called "Carrier 700" plan to cut $700 million from annual costs by 2022. The cost cuts will come from consolidating and shifting toward low-cost suppliers, lowering factory costs by increasing automated production, and lowering administrative costs by increasing the number of employees performing shared service roles.
Still, it's not just about cost-cutting. Carrier has plenty of growth opportunities. The coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in residential orders, and higher-quality HVAC providers have a growth opportunity from commercial customers looking to increase air quality and ventilation in their buildings in a post-pandemic world.
Also, the HVAC industry's leading players have an opportunity to increase equipment and service sales through the adoption of digital technologies that should improve service levels. Meanwhile, rising global temperatures (particularly in cities as urbanization occurs), increasing regulatory requirements, and the growth of the middle class in emerging economies should all support long-term HVAC demand.
Analysts have the company trading at an enterprise value to EBITDA multiple of 12.8 times in 2022, when the Carrier 700 plan ends. That's a good value for a company with high-single-digit earnings growth potential.