While President Trump has had a very hard time with Congress repealing and replacing Obamacare, for one of the other big campaign promises, the border wall, things look somewhat brighter. In fact, last week the house passed a security bill that included $1.6 billion in funds for 74 miles of the wall. While the wall remains very contentious and controversial, and many Democrats are opposed, it is far different than taking away what many perceive as an entitlement like Obamacare.
While the prototypes for the wall being built in San Diego have been delayed to the winter due to some complaints over the bidding process, the fact of the matter is the wall is underway. Needless to say, there are numerous companies in the United States anxious to be part of the design and construction process, and we screened the Merrill Lynch research database and cross-referenced recent articles on the subject and found five that look like strong candidates, all of which are rated Buy at Merrill Lynch.
After years of lousy earnings growth, this large cap leader is hitting on all cylinders. Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) is the largest manufacturer/marketer of construction equipment worldwide, and it is also a leading manufacturer of diesel engines and turbines for transport and industrial applications.
The company posted very solid second-quarter numbers, and top analysts on Wall Street that cover the company feel that the guidance laid out for the second half of 2017 could prove to be very conservative. Production is ramping up across multiple regions and markets, and the stock could have more room to run.
Shareholders receive a solid 2.75% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price target for the shares is $135, and the Wall Street consensus target is $116.26. The stock closed last Friday at $114.10.
This old-school construction firm looks like a shoo-in for border wall contracts. KBR Inc. (NYSE: KBR) is a premier global engineering and construction company focusing on the energy sector and government services, with particularly strong resume in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) market, having built a third of the installed global capacity.
KBR operates through three segments: Government Services, Technology & Consulting and Engineering & Construction. With a long footprint over the years in Washington, D.C., and a history of garnering government business, KBR may be one of the companies best suited for a contracts relating to the design and building of the border wall.
KBR shareholders are paid a 2.15% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price objective is $19, while the consensus price target is $18.37. The shares closed Friday at $14.92.
This top steel company could do very well if the economy sees a continued solid pickup this year, and steel will be needed for the border wall. Nucor Corp. (NYSE: NUE) is one of North America’s largest steel producers, with almost 27 million tons of finished steel capacity at 23 mini mills throughout the United States. The company’s downstream steel products business includes rebar fabrication, steel joists/deck, cold finished bars, fasteners, building systems and wire mesh. Nucor also has 5 million tons of scrap processing capacity.
While the residential construction market could slow down some in the latter half of 2017 after years of a very torrid pace, most analysts remain positive on nonresidential commercial construction. Nucor has always kept a very conservative balance sheet and is poised for slow but steady growth next year and beyond, especially if a huge infrastructure build-out becomes a reality.
Nucor investors receive a 2.66% dividend. The $73 Merrill Lynch price target compares with the consensus target of $68.89. The stock closed Friday at $57.46.
This company may be less well-known to investors, but it stands a solid shot at border wall contracts. AECOM (NYSE: ACM) is a premier engineering and design firm with leading market positions both in the United States and globally. AECOM focuses on the front-end design and engineering work, project management and operations and maintenance services. Its key end markets include transportation, environmental, facilities, government and energy.
With a market cap of just over $5 billion and fiscal 2016 annual revenue of $17.47 billion, the company is well positioned to handle a large influx of new government projects. AECOM recently merged with rival URS to enhance its focus on the energy and transportation sectors, areas that are sure to see new spending under the new administration, if the president can pass his infrastructure package.
The Merrill Lynch price objective is posted at $41, and the consensus is set at $39.33. The shares closed Friday at $31.58.
This is another steel company that the Merrill Lynch team is very positive on that could obtain border wall business. Steel Dynamics Inc. (NASDAQ: STLD) operates six steel mini-mills in Indiana, Virginia, Mississippi and West Virginia. Production capacity has been nearly 10 million tons, of a total 110 million U.S. capacity.
The company makes flat rolled products, special/merchant bars and structural steel products. Steel Dynamics can process about 7 million tons of ferrous scrap and has a downstream operation that processes finished steel.
Shareholders are paid a 1.76% dividend. Merrill Lynch has a $42 price target, but the consensus target is $43.33. The stock closed Friday at $35.15.
These five top companies could benefit from the border wall and the investment in the infrastructure. Toss in the effect of an improving economy, and things could really be very positive for the next few years.