In a recent episode of The Rank on Fool Live, three of our experts ranked and discussed nine of their favorite infrastructure plays. And while many of them are already massive companies, there are a couple that could potentially produce 10X returns over the next decade or so. In this clip, recorded on Sept. 13, Fool.com contributors Matt Frankel, CFP, and Jason Hall, along with senior analyst Asit Sharma, discuss the two infrastructure stocks on their radar that could be capable of huge returns if things go well.
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Matt Frankel: Normally at this point in the show we ask which of these is most likely to 10X in the next decade. These are all pretty big companies for the most part with a couple of exceptions. I think very few of them are likely to 0X, that's usually the next part of that question. I can't see any case in where Berkshire (BRK.A 0.17%) (BRK.B 0.13%) or American Tower (AMT 0.66%) or anything goes to zero. But which of these do you think is most likely to, I'll say, 5X in the next 10 years?
Asit Sharma: I will say that there is an outside chance you could get a 10X out of NV5 (NVEE 2.87%). It's a $1.5 billion business and it's a massive industry. There's multiple $25 [billion] to $30 billion U.S. companies in the engineering space. You think about Jacobs Engineering (J 1.17%). I think it could 10X. I think 5X in 10 years is very reasonable, actually.
Jason Hall: Yeah. I will second that with that market capitalization. Also they've really torn it up since their introduction to the public markets as well. Maybe some future performance in that vein is still well within the realm of possibility.
Sharma: Matt, you're not the only one that can share a chart. Look at that, buddy.
Frankel: Oh, there you go.
Sharma: Since it went public.
Frankel: Well, just to be a little bit different, I'd say Digital Realty (DLR 1.55%) has a non-zero chance of 10Xing in the next 10 years.
Frankel: It has 10Xed in the last 10 years. Right now it's got a market cap of about $44 billion. Remember, they are a pretty big dividend payer, too. They pay up over 3% yield. If you're talking about total returns, I don't think a 10X in 10 years is beyond the realm of possibilities if technology keeps evolving the way it has. That would make it, including dividends, just roughly doing the math in my head, that would put it in roughly the $300 [billion] to $350 billion range.
If it keeps paying dividends like it has, that would be a 10X total return, which I think is in the realm of possibilities. There aren't any REITs that are in the $300 billion to $350 billion range yet. American Tower is the biggest at $135 [billion]. But it can certainly get there. The data center market right now is huge, there's a lot of room for just acquisitions to get it to that point. I think that's a non-zero chance. I think that will be a pretty big performer over the next decade.
Sharma: I want to throw in a pitch for Autodesk (ADSK -0.15%) somewhere between a 5X and a 10X at $61 billion of market capitalization. It's actually one of smaller ones on the list. Not smallest but smaller ones, relatively speaking. I think it definitely has what it takes to grow into one of these several $100 billion companies. The likes of which I was mentioning when I was talking about it, it certainly has very strong characteristics that make it similar to those solid growers.
Again, I think the company that I most would like to compare it to is Adobe (ADBE -0.47%), which has managed to keep increasing both its financial returns and its stock price year after year despite now being quite a large company. I think with that really fast growth rate, opportunities ahead to strengthen the core revenue, some more strategic acquisitions, like the water software modeling company I was talking about, I think Autodesk has a good chance of winding somewhere between that 5X and 10X in the next decade.