Sure, I saw the revival in commercial engineering and infrastructure spending coming. I liked stocks like Shaw Group (NYSE:SGR), McDermott (NYSE:MDR), Perini, and ABB (NYSE:ABB) -- the worst of which is up "only" about 49% for the past year. I did my due diligence, modeling, and so on. And how many of them did I buy?

Zero. Zilch. Bupkus.

Which just goes to show you: Good stock-picking only makes you money if you actually happen to, you know, buy the attractively priced stocks you uncover. Oh, well. Live and learn, right?

The good news is that the story might not be entirely over -- at least not for energy, environmental, and infrastructure engineering specialist Shaw Group. Revenue for the fiscal first quarter was up about 41%, and net income nearly tripled. Better still, the backlog was a robust $6.9 billion, up about $165 million from the fourth quarter.

See, while this quarter was helped by hurricane-related work, the energy business is just starting to get going. For instance, the company is working with Motley Fool Income Investor pick Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) on a nuclear plant project, and Cleco (NYSE:CNL) on an electrical project that will burn a variety of fuels like petroleum, coke, and coal. Importantly, the company believes that there are numerous other projects in varying stages of development in which it could participate.

And let's not forget the environmental business, either. Not only did a company joint venture just receive a $192 million government contract, but there has also been ongoing business with clients like Dominion (NYSE:D) and PPL (NYSE:PPL) for scrubbers and other environmental technology.

The best time to buy stocks like Shaw is when they're flat on their backs and nobody is talking about building new power plants or refineries. Sadly, that time is past -- but I don't believe the story is over for Shaw just yet. Assuming that the economy doesn't hit a seriously rough patch, plans for new facilities should keep moving forward, and that should keep Shaw's engineers busy for at least a few more years to come.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).