Construct A Winning Portfolio With These Infrastructure Stocks


The G.W. Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations all pushed for infrastructure bills to repair the United States’ decaying transportation, power, water, and rural broadband systems, but there has been little desire by Congress to move any proposal forward.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic might be changing this. Local bridge and road projects are often funded by state budgets. Due to nationwide lockdowns and the subsequent recession, state tax revenues will fall significantly, forcing budget cuts. This could exacerbate an already weak economic situation because, according to the Brookings Institution, one in 10 U.S. jobs relates to infrastructure.

As a result, both U.S. political parties are pushing competing infrastructure proposals, spurred on by the Trump administration’s recent statement that they will present an infrastructure bill of at least $1T. The Democratic party’s House infrastructure bill, the Moving Forward Act, has a $1.5T budget, which includes $500B for transportation and $100B for schools as well as money for clean energy funds, rural broadband, the USPS, and an electric car charging network.


It is estimated the bill will create 1.9M jobs over a five-year period. In contrast, the current GOP Senate plan is only a reauthorization of the five-year $287B Highway Trust Fund. I’m skeptical that the parties will be able to reconcile their differences before the upcoming presidential election to pass a bill. Still, given the need for infrastructure improvements, fiscal stimulus to re-accelerate the economy, and putting unemployed Americans back to work, I believe a major infrastructure bill will pass in some form in the next year. Although very small in market cap, a way to gain exposure to this theme is through an ETF called Global X U.S. Infrastructure Development (PAVE).

There are at least a few dozen companies that could benefit significantly if such a bill passes. Below are stocks from several industry groups (cement, steel/metal, heavy machinery, rails, chemicals, leasing, and building contractors, among others) that should be on your watch list. These stocks generally rate well using William O’Neil + Co.’s proprietary EPS Rank and Composite Rating and have decent-to-positive technical setups.

Fastenal FAST (FAST) operates more than 2,000 construction material supply stores that sell fasteners, safety supplies, tools, hydraulics equipment, material handling, and electrical/welding equipment. The company’s sales growth has accelerated from 8% over five years to 11% over three years. Its pretax margins have been remarkably steady at 20–22% for the past decade, and EPS has grown in all but two years (2009, 2016) since 1990. The stock has reflected that success, rising sixfold since 2009. While the current breadth of stocks breaking to all-time highs is not great, FAST made new highs just six weeks after bottoming in March. The company’s outlook for the next few quarters calls for moderate top-line growth due to weak industrial production. However, growth is expected to resume in 2021 and an infrastructure bill could pull forward a re-acceleration.

Sika (SIKA.CH) provides construction materials including mortars, concrete systems, adhesives, thermoplastics, and coatings that support and reinforce buildings and structures. After the company purchased a mortar/adhesives company in 2019, revenue from the Americas rose to 27% of total revenue. Americas sales grew 23% y/y in Q1 2020, versus 15% growth for the group. Product categories that would benefit the most from an infrastructure bill are cement/concrete/mortar technologies and sealing/bonding and waterproofing. Through consolidation in a fragmented industry and steady mid-single-digit top-line growth, Sika has generated five-year sales growth of 8% and EPS growth of 14%. EBIT margins north of 12% are far better than those of its largest competitors. Sika expects 6–8% annual top-line growth through 2023 and EBIT margins of 15–18%. The stock is a huge long-term outperformer versus the general market and even more so versus its industry group. While its business may not be as sensitive to the passage of an infrastructure bill as other names I’ve highlighted, it is one of the highest quality names in the group.

United Rentals URI (URI) provides backhoes, forklifts, aerial work platforms (scissor/boom lifts), excavators, loaders, trench safety equipment, and power solutions and safety equipment for construction through rentals (85% of revenues) and sales (12%) across more than 1,100 retail outlets. It is easily the market leader for equipment rentals (13%) with double the share of its closest competitor. Behind non-residential construction, its second largest end-market vertical is infrastructure development. While construction spending per capita has fallen over the past decade, the equipment rental market is sharply outpacing that growth, and URI continues to take share. Sales growth has accelerated from 12% over five years to 19% over three years, while EPS growth rose from 25% over five years to 34% over three. Pretax margins have remained steady at 20–22% over five years. The stock has a been a good relative performer since 2009, and while its business is in a challenging period, investors should be encouraged by its strong recovery from March lows before an infrastructure bill is even on the table.

CRH (CRH; CRH LN) is a U.K.-based provider of cement, asphalt, and other building products for commercial and residential markets, with more than 50% of revenues from the U.S. Its largest product segments are aggregates/asphalt/ready mix, cement, and construction contract activities. The company has a variety of subsidiaries that operate under their own brands, covering 46 U.S. states and more than 1,000 locations. As a vertically integrated supplier, it is able to control material sourcing costs, efficiently distribute, and save on end-of-life costs by recycling materials. In constant currency, sales have grown 3% annually over five years, picking up to 8% in 2019, driven by double-digit growth in the U.S. Pretax margins have expanded from 4% in 2015 to 8% in 2019, driving annual profit growth of 17%. Despite challenges from Covid-19, the company notes that stimulus measures would be especially favorable for the building/construction segment. The stock has a respectable Relative Strength Rating (a proprietary factor used by William O’Neil + Co. to measure a stock’s strength relative to the market) despite being in a poorly rated industry group, and it should continue to stand out within its group should an infrastructure bill move forward.

Other stocks to watch include Fluor FLR (FLR), KBR KBR (KBR), James Hardie JHX (JHX), Steel Dynamics STLD (STLD), Advanced Drainage Systems (WMS), Arcosa (ACA), Ashtead Group (AHT.GB), Generac (GNRC), Rockwell Automation ROK (ROK), Nordson NDSN (NDSN), Union Pacific UNP (UNP), and Arconic (ARNC).


No part of my compensation was, is, or will be directly or indirectly related to the specific recommendations or views expressed herein. O’Neil Global Advisors, its affiliates, and/or their respective officers, directors, or employees may have interests, or long or short positions, and may at any time make purchases or sales as a principal or agent of the securities referred to herein.

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I am Chief Investment Officer for O’Neil Global Advisors (OGA), a subsidiary of O’Neil Capital Management, an Investment Advisor that develops systematic equity trading strategies using quantitative modeling and algorithms. I previously served as Chief Investment Strategist of OGA affiliate William O’Neil Co., an independent advisory firm providing global buy and sell recommendations, independent research, and custom advisory to many of the world’s leading institutional investment managers. I have managed numerous long-only and long-short hedge funds, mutual funds, and institutional accounts and overseen investment teams at Folger Hill Asset Management, Freedom Capital Management, Westfield Capital Management, and The Boston Company. I am a Certified Financial Analyst and am regularly featured on Reuters TV, Bloomberg Radio, CNBC, and Fox Business.


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15 Absorbing Construction Statistics to Know in 2020


Do you often find yourself looking at the photos of marvelous buildings all over the world with amazement? Or have you ever visited some of them and felt inspired by the atmosphere they generated? Apart from being one of the most prosperous industries in the world, as the latest construction statistics show, construction is much more than merely putting the elements together to create a functional infrastructure. Construction sculpts the world around us and contributes to each person’s perception of unique architectural feats. If you’re curious to find out more, take a look at what our research has found about the industry’s modern-day impact on the global economy, certain construction worker profiles, and their safety at work.

Key Construction Statistics and Facts Reviewed

  • Back in the day, the word “skyscraper” referred to very tall men.
  • There are bridges that lead absolutely nowhere.
  • 20% of private industry worker fatalities occur within the construction industry, statistics show.
  • The commercial construction industry’s overall expenses decreased by 4% ($92 billion) in 2019.
  • America must build over 4.5 million new apartments by 2030 to meet demand.
  • Construction laborers are at high risk of multiple respiratory diseases.
  • Women make up 9.1% of all construction workers and employees in the industry.
  • 80% of construction companies struggle to find field workers.

Fun Construction Facts from All Over the Globe

1. Giza, Lincoln Cathedral, and Stralsund’s St. Mary’s were each, at one point in time, the world’s tallest building.

(The Lincolnite)

The Great Pyramid of Giza held the title of world’s tallest building for 4 millennia prior to being replaced by England’s Lincoln Cathedral in 1311. This structure’s main spire reached 525 feet. Its height was unsurpassed for nearly 250 years, until a severe storm in 1548. The central spire collapsed, making St. Mary’s Church in Stralsund the tallest building.

2. Some interesting facts about construction: it took the equivalent of a US town to build Burj Khalifa.

(Luxe Adventure Traveler)

As the tallest building in the world built by a human workforce (2,716.5 feet), it’s no wonder so many workers were engaged in this fabulous skyscraper’s construction. It took over 100,000 tons of concrete and 55,000 tons of steel. To erect the 164-floor building (one of which is underground), thousands of people were hired. At the busiest period of construction, over 12,000 people were actively involved.

3. Bridges are vital supporting structures, but did you know there are those that lead absolutely nowhere?

(Base Concrete)

This is one of the particularly fun facts about construction. The majority of bridges serve their purpose, overcoming geographical barriers in order to facilitate travel and the movement of goods. However, some of them simply haven’t been completed for ages, and others were installed as pieces of art. A well-known example is the Half-Bridge of Hope in Russia.

4.Today’s meaning of the word “skyscraper” is completely different from what it originally referred to.

(Construct Connect)

Here’s another of the interesting facts about architecture and construction—this one from the Oxford English Dictionary. Long before people began to call impressively tall buildings “skyscrapers” in 1882, the word was already in use. It referred to other things of outstanding height (and beings, too), such as cylinder hats, horses standing up on their back hooves, exceptionally tall men, people riding the old-fashioned high-wheelers, etc.

Construction Worker Stats & Facts

5. In 2018, construction labor shortage statistics showed that 80% of construction companies struggled to find construction site workers.

(Giatec Scientific)

Partially, the problem can be explained by the gradual loss of interest in skill-based jobs among the younger generations. Nowadays, suit-and-tie and healthcare careers are gaining more popularity, winning out over construction jobs. Furthermore, 32% of this industry’s current employee base belongs to the aging population (45-64 years old), according to 2018’s data.

6. In the case of women in construction, statistics reveal that female workers make up 9.1% of all US construction workers and employees.


Generally, they earn an average 95.7% of what their male counterparts make, according to the National Association of Women in Construction. Comparatively, women across all industries make approximately 82% of what their male counterparts earn.

7. Women still encounter gender-based difficulties in the construction industry.

(The Undercover Recruiter)

The construction worker facts we reviewed suggest that these challenges include sexual harassment, a shortage of benefits, a pay gap, and social discrimination. Furthermore, construction equipment is still insufficiently adjusted to women, thus increasing the risk of them becoming injured. Also, women often don’t consider construction careers due to the overall lack of female role models.

8. Large-scale commercial construction statistics from 2019 indicate that there’s been a decrease in demand for big warehousing centers. 


Since 2019, trade bargains have diminished, meaning the short-term necessities for warehousing items have decreased in number as well. However, there’s still a high demand for luxurious shopping centers, amusement parks and recreation facilities, temporary accommodation facilities, and business offices. Still, the overall commercial construction industry decreased by 4% ($92 billion) in 2019.

9. New home construction statistics indicate that America will need to build 4.6 million new apartments by 2030 in order to meet rising demand.


A 2017 study by the National Apartment Association concluded that millions of new residential apartments will be needed over the following 10 years. The main reasons identified are the increasing number of young adults aged 18–34 who are postponing buying a home, the elderly opting to live in apartments (as compared to a house), and the influx of immigrants. In addition to the demand for new apartments, almost 12 million existing apartments will need remodeling.

10. Comparing national construction statistics, Chinese companies are still the global leader in the construction market in terms of revenue.


Chinese companies still hold the title of number one based on revenue, making up 41% of the market. Japan and South Korea, as well as the US, the UK, Spain, and France, are also among the dominant countries in the global construction market. However, China’s international company sales rate is lower than that of the mentioned countries.

Construction Safety Statistics and Facts

11. Over 20% of private-industry worker fatalities occur within the construction industry.


In other words, one out of every five work-related deaths happens to a construction worker. But what is it that causes frequent construction-related fatalities? As per statistics, the main causes are the following: falls, being hit by an object, electric shocks, and getting caught between objects. These four types of accidents are to blame for 58.6% of construction-related deaths.

12. According to construction accident statistics, approximately 150,000 construction site accidents result in injuries each year.

(Murphy Law Office)

As previously stated, falls make up the largest portion of all construction workers’ accidents, but accidents involving various kinds of contact with equipment as a cause aren’t rare either. Those most likely to have an accident on a construction site are workers aged 25–34. Additionally, the body parts most commonly affected by such injuries involve the back, spine, and torso.

(Health and Safety Executive)

Moreover, 37% of the injured workers required more than three days off for recovery, while it took more than seven days for up to 28%. Around 2.4% of the workers in this sector suffered an injury. This means the only industry that has surpassed construction in non-fatal injuries is the agriculture, forestry & fishing industry, with a rate of 4.1%.

14. In the UK from 2016 to 2017, 7% of those who were killed at work died because an object collapsed on a construction site.

(The NBS)

Construction industry statistics show that workers operating around excavations are more endangered than others because the risk of objects collapsing is higher. Even when a small or light object (such as tools or debris) falls from above, it accelerates at a rate of 22 mph, thus still risking severe injury. These accidents also include wall and roof collapses, which are especially likely to happen during demolition or renovation.

15. Construction statistics show that construction laborers are at high risk of multiple respiratory diseases.

(Health and Safety Executive)

The majority of construction-related activities involve exposure to harmful circumstances affecting respiratory organs, and if workplace safety isn’t taken care of in advance, the effects are hazardous. Most frequently, construction workers suffer from asbestos-related conditions, such as mesothelioma, severe lung scarring, pleural thickening, COPD, and occupational asthma.


How many people are employed by the construction industry?

According to the 2018 estimates by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people employed in the construction industry reached 7.29 million in the US. However, this number may be higher. The calculated growth rate of construction employees in the Construction Industry Group is 2.74% (more specifically, the number leaped from 8.82 million employees in 2017 to 9.07 million employees in 2018).

(Data USA)

Is the construction industry booming?

Yes, it is. Along with the furniture industry, it’s one of the most profitable ones. As per economists’ predictions, although the global expansion of the construction industry slowed down to a rate of 2.6% in 2019 (this especially applies to the worlds’ strongest economies, like that of Australia and the US), the rate of growth in 2020 could reach 3.1%. However, there are certain social and geopolitical circumstances that could subvert the estimates, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic or the trade war between the US and China.

(Global Data)

What is the largest construction company in the United States?

Currently, this is Bechtel Group Inc., a global construction company based in San Francisco, California. It was among the two American construction companies to rank among the 15 world’s biggest construction contractors in 2014, with the rest of these companies mostly coming from Europe and China. One of Bechtel’s most significant projects is the Hoover Dam. The company’s total revenue in 2018 exceeded $25 billion.


What state has the most construction work?

Most states have faced an increase in demand for construction employees. However, according to 2018’s BLS data, the top three states with the highest rates of construction employment are West Virginia, New Mexico, and Wyoming. However, the states with the most construction work are Texas, California, and Florida in terms of the total number of jobs.


How big is the construction industry?

Construction is a major contributor to the US economy. 7 million construction employees work for more than 680,000 employers, and together they create structures and buildings valued at close to $1.3 trillion every year. Furthermore, this industry represents some of the biggest customers for manufacturing, mining, and a variety of other services, according to the construction statistics.



The powerful construction industry is most actively involved in shaping the landscape of the modern world’s future. Although it has been affected by many challenges, it continues to flourish—despite the ever-changing socio-economic circumstances, as well as alterations in resource and material availability, etc.

Even though contractors predict more challenging circumstances due to the current global pandemic, according to what our construction statistics indicate, construction is still booming and offering plenty of opportunities for prosperous careers for both men and women.

By Sanela Pauc




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