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3 Infrastructure Stocks to Buy Right Now

By Jason Hawthorne – Updated Sep 29, 2021 at 8:43AM

Key Points

  • Repairing roads and bridges requires a lot of barriers and safety equipment.
  • A focus on public transit and railways should bring big contracts for this serial acquirer.
  • This company operates the largest charging network for electric vehicles. And it's not Tesla.

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These companies could be big winners if the proposed legislation passes.

Despite a lot of headlines, infrastructure has gotten the short end of the stick recently. In the past five years, the S&P 500 index has outpaced the iShares U.S. Infrastructure ETF (IFRA 0.24%) nearly two to one. The broad index is up 72% compared to 37% for the ETF.

Infrastructure was a common topic during the Trump administration. But no legislation ever passed both chambers of Congress. President Biden first introduced a $2 trillion plan in March of this year. But the bill has been whittled down and is delayed, with many in the President's own party threatening not to support it.

A vote on the bill is likely Thursday. And if it passes, Lindsay Corporation (LNN 0.24%), Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies (WAB 0.33%), and ChargePoint Holdings (CHPT -4.51%) are likely to benefit. Here's why.

A person leans against their car while they wait for it to charge.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Lindsay Corporation

Lindsay operates two business segments: Irrigation and infrastructure. The infrastructure business makes up 28% of the company's $542 million in annual revenue and consists of moveable road barriers, crash cushions, and various road marking and safety equipment. That segment stands to benefit from the $110 billion in proposed spending on roads, bridges, and related projects. 

There is plenty of work to do. It is estimated that 20% of the nation's roads are in poor condition. That's not counting the 45,000 bridges considered equally dilapidated. Despite having the same revenue in 2020 as it did in 2011, shares of Lindsay have risen 164% in that time.

It's a good lesson about how to create shareholder wealth even in a stagnant business. Management has been buying back shares and raising the dividend every year. Because of that, earnings per share have risen 62% in the last 10 years and the dividend has climbed 279%.

Although the current yield is 0.9%, savvy investors will recognize that the company pays out only slightly more than one-fourth of its earnings as dividends. That's plenty of room for another decade of increases, especially if the proposed infrastructure spending comes to fruition.

2. Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies

Another area that stands to benefit from the legislation is the rail system. The proposed bill has $39 billion for public transit and another $66 billion for passenger and freight rail. That's a perfect combination for Westinghouse Air Brake, also known as Wabtec. The company serves the passenger transit and freight rail industries. 

The freight unit accounts for two-thirds of its $7.7 billion in annual sales. It sells everything from actual locomotives to parts, services, electronic controls, and software for the companies using locomotives and freight cars. It's pieced together an impressive portfolio of products through acquisition.

The transit segment offers a similar set of services for regional and high-speed trains, as well as subway cars and buses. Unlike the freight segment, the transit segment serves many public-sector customers -- the exact recipients of a lot of proposed infrastructure funds.  

Although the stock is only up 212% over the past decade -- and 14% over the past five years -- revenue and operating cash flow are up 293% and 330%, respectively. Two factors have impeded share gains. First, Wall Street hasn't been as interested in it as the broader market. Wabtec's price-to-sales has risen 35% since 2011, while it's up an estimated 163% for the S&P 500 index.

Second, acquisitions have doubled the number of outstanding shares. That means the growth in sales and profits per share is about half what the company as a whole achieved.

Still, the most significant infrastructure spending in more than a decade could have a profound effect on Wabtec's orders for years to come. Management already pointed to a 12-month backlog of $5.8 billion at the end of its second quarter. That was the highest since March of 2019. The total backlog was $21.5 billion. Any additional spending should get Wall Street's attention and benefit shareholders in the years ahead.

3. ChargePoint Holdings

Even those who follow electric vehicles (EV) may not have heard of ChargePoint Holdings. But it has been around since 2007 and boasts the world's largest EV charging network. A driver plugs into its network every two seconds, and those customers include some of the most well-known names in business, like Pepsico, Target, General Motors (GM -1.31%), and Chevron (CVX -0.80%).

It has the leading market share in North America and is expanding in Europe. Despite the affiliation with EVs, it equates its ecosystem more to Peloton than Tesla (TSLA 0.08%)

President Biden's infrastructure proposal specifically targets EV charging with a $7.5 billion plan to expand access over five years. It will take more than that to keep up with demand. Even California -- a state that has spent $2 billion to create the most dense charging network in the U.S. -- estimates it only has 40% of the capacity it will need by 2025. Biden's original plan had called for 500,000 charging stations nationwide -- a lofty goal. An analyst at Capgemini has estimated the cost of a U.S.-wide network at about $50 billion. 

Even if we fall short, it's great news for ChargePoint and its hardware, software, and service sales to its commercial, residential, and fleet customers.

The company came public through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) in March and has seen its shares drop 30% in the months since. Despite the decline of the stock, management is projecting robust growth over the next half decade. Although management projects $230 million in revenue this year, it is anticipating $2.07 billion in 2026. With that growth comes scale.

Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization -- a proxy for operating profit -- is expected to flip positive in 2024 if all goes according to plan. If the infrastructure bill passes with anything like its current funding for EV charging, it should increase the odds ChargePoint will hit the aggressive goals it has laid out. Investors might consider starting a position before the big vote takes place.

Jason Hawthorne has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Peloton Interactive, Tesla, and Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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