Infrastructure is essential to transport and store energy, water, freight, passengers, and data. It's the physical backbone of the global economy, so a well-maintained infrastructure is vital to the health and continued growth of the economy.

Imaginary lines atop a rural scene with highways, homes, and a river.
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Infrastructure is costly to build and maintain. The U.S. alone needs to invest an estimated $2.6 trillion by 2030 to bring its infrastructure up to date. The U.S. Congress took a big step in that direction in 2021 by passing a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. The legislation included money for highway repairs, bridge reconstruction, and port, airport, and transit system upgrades.

Globally, the need for infrastructure investment is even greater. Swiss Re estimates that the investment required through 2040 to rebuild and expand the world's infrastructure is more than $80 trillion.

Governments can't afford that expense by themselves, which is leading them to increasingly collaborate with companies in the private sector. An infrastructure company may own, operate, build, maintain, or expand infrastructure systems. The different types include:

  • Transportation infrastructure: The physical assets that move people and freight from one place to another, including airports, railroads, toll roads, and ports.
  • Commodity infrastructure: The physical assets that produce, transport, process, and store commodities such as water, oil, natural gas, refined petroleum products, and electricity.
  • Data infrastructure: Physical networks and components that enable the movement and storage of information such as communications towers and data centers.

5 top infrastructure stocks for 2024

Below are three top infrastructure companies that have long histories of creating shareholder value and are well-positioned to benefit from the sector's growth.

Below are five top infrastructure companies that have long histories of creating shareholder value and are well-positioned to benefit from the growth in infrastructure spending in the coming years.

1. Brookfield Infrastructure

Brookfield Infrastructure (BIP 2.24%) (BIPC 1.54%) is a major beneficiary of the trend in government entities increasingly transferring ownership of infrastructure assets to the private sector to fund new investment. It’s a leader in owning, operating, and acquiring transportation, midstream energy, utility, and data infrastructure. The company holds a diversified, global portfolio of infrastructure companies.

Its strategy has paid off. Brookfield Infrastructure has a long history of increasing its dividend payments and outperforming the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC). The company expects to boost its dividend by 5% to 9% annually over the long term, making it likely to continue paying a higher-than-average dividend yield.

2. Enbridge

Enbridge (ENB 0.75%) is one of the leading energy infrastructure companies in North America. It operates oil and gas pipelines, other midstream assets, and natural gas utilities. The company also has a sizable renewable energy business.

Enbridge has increased its dividend for more than 25 consecutive years. Despite the shift toward cleaner alternative energy sources, it’s still growing and estimates it can increase its annual cash flow per share by 5% to 7% through 2024. Because of that, the company is well-positioned to continue increasing its high-yielding dividend.

3. Crown Castle International

Crown Castle (CCI -0.9%) is one of the largest infrastructure-focused real estate investment trusts (REITs). The company enables mobile data and voice transmissions by operating large communications towers in the U.S. It also owns a fiber-optic cable telecommunications network and a growing portfolio of small cell wireless sites. This infrastructure is crucial for enabling 5G networks to expand across the country.

This infrastructure REIT has steadily increased both its cash flow and its dividend. Crown Castle sees a decade-long investment opportunity ahead supporting the expansion of 5G. The REIT believes this expansion should support a 7% to 8% annual growth in its dividend.

4. Caterpillar

Caterpillar (CAT -0.51%) is a leading global manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines, and diesel-electric locomotives. That makes it a prime beneficiary of increasing global infrastructure spending.

The industrial company has a long history of creating value for shareholders. Caterpillar has increased its dividend for more than 25 years, qualifying it as a Dividend Achiever. This trend should continue, given the growing need for equipment to build and maintain global infrastructure.

5. Fluor

Fluor (FLR 4.25%) is a leading global provider of engineering, procurement, and construction services. It focuses on three markets:

  • Energy solutions: Fluor serves customers in the chemicals, liquified natural gas (LNG), nuclear project services, and production and fuels sectors.
  • Urban solutions: Flour provides services to the advanced technology, infrastructure, life sciences, and mining and metals sectors.
  • Mission solutions: The company also provides technical and project expertise to government agencies.

Flour’s wide range of capabilities makes it a key beneficiary of increased global infrastructure spending. As a leader in engineering and construction, it will play a key role in building infrastructure projects in the coming years.

Top infrastructure ETFs for 2024

For investors who prefer not to choose individual stocks, buying shares in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) enables you to make diversified, directional bets on stock market sectors and investing themes. Investors have several infrastructure-focused ETF options.

The three infrastructure ETFs listed below concentrate on different aspects of the infrastructure industry. This variety, combined with their large asset bases -- these funds are the top three infrastructure ETFs by assets under management -- makes any of these ETFs great options for gaining portfolio exposure to the infrastructure investing megatrend.

1. iShares Global Infrastructure ETF

The iShares Global Infrastructure ETF (IGF 0.46%) holds stocks in more than 75 infrastructure companies that are primarily focused on serving developed countries. This infrastructure ETF offers targeted global access to companies that provide transportation, communication, water, and electricity services.

2. Global X US Infrastructure Development ETF

The Global X US Infrastructure Development ETF (PAVE 0.9%) holds stocks in more than 100 infrastructure companies, all of which are poised to benefit from an increase in U.S. infrastructure investment spending. The fund holds the stocks of raw materials producers, heavy equipment makers, and engineering and construction companies.

3. FlexShares STOXX Global Broad Infrastructure Index Fund

The FlexShares STOXX Global Broad Infrastructure Index Fund (NFRA 0.54%) is an ETF that holds almost 250 infrastructure stocks. The fund provides global exposure to the energy, utilities, communications, and transportation sectors.

Sector-specific infrastructure stocks

Here are some specific types of infrastructure stocks and the companies providing the best exposure to these parts of the infrastructure industry.

Electrical infrastructure stocks

Dozens of electric utility companies focus on generating electricity and distributing it to customers. They also collectively maintain the infrastructure comprising the nation's electrical grid to ensure its reliability. One of the leading U.S. electric utilities is NextEra Energy (NEE 1.71%).

Natural gas infrastructure stocks

Many infrastructure companies operate natural gas infrastructure, which includes pipelines, processing plants, storage facilities, and LNG export terminals. Among the leaders are Enbridge and Kinder Morgan (KMI -0.05%).

Road infrastructure stocks

Road infrastructure companies operate toll roads under concession agreements with governments. They collect tolls to maintain the roadways and expand the roads as traffic volumes increase. Brookfield Infrastructure is a leader in this sector.

Technology infrastructure stocks

Technology infrastructure includes communications towers, fiber-optic cables, and data centers. Some of the leading technology infrastructure companies are Crown Castle and American Tower (AMT -0.36%), both of which are infrastructure REITs.

Water infrastructure stocks

Pipelines, distribution systems, desalination plants, and wastewater and sewage treatment facilities are all considered water infrastructure. One of the top water stocks is American Water Works (AWK -0.29%).

Green infrastructure stocks

A growing number of infrastructure companies are developing, owning, and operating emissions-free energy sources such as wind, solar energy, hydrogen, hydropower, and biofuels. Among the sector's leaders are NextEra Energy, Brookfield Renewable (BEP 2.22%)(BEP 2.22%C), and Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure (AY 2.67%).

Related investing topics

Is investing in infrastructure right for you?

The global economy requires trillions of dollars of spending in the coming decades to rebuild aging infrastructure and construct new assets to meet the needs of steadily rising populations. With such immense needs and so many ways to invest, adding infrastructure stocks or ETFs to your investment portfolio is a straightforward way to profit from this megatrend.

Matthew DiLallo has positions in American Tower, Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure Plc, Brookfield Infrastructure, Brookfield Infrastructure Partners, Brookfield Renewable Partners, Crown Castle, Enbridge, Kinder Morgan, and NextEra Energy. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends American Tower, Crown Castle, Enbridge, Kinder Morgan, and NextEra Energy. The Motley Fool recommends Brookfield Infrastructure Partners and Brookfield Renewable Partners. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.