Quarterly Outlook Report – Building America Portfolio Update
- In a world of uncertainty, few things are as clear as an approved Federal Authorization. Because of this, the companies in Builders can look forward to potentially five years of solid revenue visibility.
- Congress has already approved nearly $1 trillion in spending for roads, bridges, and other spending related to infrastructure.
- There are relatively few companies that can do this work, they are at the chokepoint in one of the largest government spending programs in decades.
- What has been approved so far is just a down payment on decades of neglect.
- We expect this funding trend to continue due to the clearly documented need and uncharacteristic political cooperation. Both parties can agree this needs to be done.
Progress has been made on the country’s infrastructural health with the number of structurally deficient bridges declining for 5 years in a row and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) raising its grade for US infrastructure to its highest rating in 33 years. However, much of this progress is due to the exceptionally low bar the nation’s infrastructure has set for decades. Between 1998 and 2017 US infrastructure never received a grade higher than a D+ by the ASCE while the cost to repair ballooned to $5.9 trillion over 10 years to get to a B grade compared to a $1.3 trillion estimated outlay in 2001.
The reality is that infrastructure in the United States is still a very long way from being able to meet the requirements of a growing economy. Motorists cross structurally deficient bridges 167.5 million times a day and at the current replacement rate it would take nearly 30 years to repair them all. Across the country, 36% of bridges need major repair work or replacement – spanning more than 6,100 miles if placed end to end. The American Road & Transportation Builders Association estimates it would cost nearly $260 billion to repair all of them.
With the passage of H.R. 3684: Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), signed into law on November 15, 2021, the US sees its largest federal investment in over a decade. The bill, according to government factsheets, allocates $973 billion in spending over the next 5 years – roughly $494 billion of this allotment is net new money related to infrastructure. With an expected reauthorization after 5 years, the bill is expected to put more than $1.2 trillion in infrastructure spending into the economy.
Take-up thus far has been swift – more than $185 billion in funding for 10,000 projects have been announced, with every state in the country receiving federal funds. Public investment had been trending about 20% below the 45-year average and while this doesn’t solve the entire problem, it is a huge sum of money and there are only so many companies that have the capabilities, qualifications, and expertise to handle the large-scale projects that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act calls for. In 2019, both the EPA and Department of Transportation awarded more than a third of contractor dollars to fewer than 10 companies.
As we enter a year that will likely have a lot of uncertainty in the ultimate trajectory of economic activity or growth in corporate earnings, the Builders portfolio has a level of clarity that is absent in much of the broader market, in our view. As an example, the IIJA’s $110 billion authorization for roads, bridges, and other major projects is slated to grow at a 6% Compound Annual Growth Rate, year over year, for five years. Considering the average company in Builders generates just $7 billion in sales per year, this offers significant visibility over what could be a proportionally large jump in revenue.
The portfolio also tilts to the Small-Mid Cap Value style box, which historically has handled rising interest rate environments and inflationary environments better, and generates 87% of its revenue in the United States or North America. For the companies that report US Government associated revenues, 46% of total sales is derived from government services. The portfolio also contains 4 of the 9 largest US Cement producers, which together are responsible for 29% of total cement production according to AlphaWise.
Furthermore, the general public has shown remarkable appetite for raising revenue related to infrastructure over the last decade. Since 2013 more than 2,800 measures have been approved by American voters with an overall approval rate of 84%. 2015 was the only year where less than 70% of measures were approved. This has resulted in the approval of $343 billion in new and recurring revenue for transportation investment from State and Local governments.
Ultimately, however, it is our view that the largest justification for the strategy is the immensity of the task at hand. While the bipartisan agreement announced is substantial in nominal terms, it’s just one step in the process and still well short of what the ASCE estimates is required for a healthy infrastructure grade that can handle a growing economy. Excluding Broadband infrastructure and the financing vehicles, the bill commits $494 billion in above-baseline spending to infrastructure over 5 years. Using the ASCE estimates there’s still another $2.02 trillion required over the next 10 years just to get to a B grade.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is one of the most significant investments in the nation’s infrastructure in history. But decades of underinvestment mean we still need more.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.
The economic forecasts set forth in the presentation may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful. All investing involves risk including potential loss of principal. Tactical allocation may involve more frequent buying and selling of assets and will tend to generate higher transaction cost. Investors should consider the tax consequences of moving positions more frequently.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index is a capitalization weighted index of 500 stocks designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries. Because of their narrow focus, sector investing will be subject to greater volatility than investing more broadly across many sectors and companies.
This information is not intended as a solicitation or an offer to buy or sell any security referred to herein. Because of their narrow focus, sector investing will be subject to greater volatility than investing more broadly across many sectors and companies. International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors. These risks are often heightened for investments in emerging markets.
Pence Wealth Management, Inc. (“PWM”) is a financial services practice within LPL Financial LLC (“LPL Financial”) comprised of multiple financial professionals that provide a series of services including personal investment advisory, third party managed advisory and brokerage services. PWM is an investment adviser registered with the State of California to provide financial planning services. The financial professionals affiliated with PWM are registered with and securities and investment advisory services offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC and a registered investment adviser. As of 12/31/2021, the total assets serviced by PWM through LPL Financial consist of over $1.95 billion in advisory and $383 million in brokerage assets.
PWM and LPL Financial are separate entities.
Dryden Pence is a registered representative with and securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, LLC (“LPL Financial”) member FINRA/SIPC and a registered investment adviser. Mr. Pence may offer financial planning services through Pence Wealth Management (“PWM”), a registered investment advisor. Pence Wealth Management and LPL Financial are separate entities. Mr. Pence is the Chief Investment Officer of Pence Capital Management, LLC and provides investment related consultancy services to Pence Wealth Management and Pence Financial Group.