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Winners in the Race for Federal Stimulus Dollars


President Obama’s release of $3.4 billion to help build the "smart” electric grid is just one component of a $787 billion stimulus package that’s having a huge impact on U.S. infrastructure spending. But what types of infrastructure projects are benefiting most from federal stimulus dollars and which companies are winning and losing as a result?

To find out, we surveyed 313 members of the ChangeWave Research Network who work for companies involved with infrastructure projects.

The September 29–October 5 survey is a follow-up from our March 2009 infrastructure survey and focused primarily on spending within the Transportation and Electricity/Smart Grid sectors.

Sectors Benefiting Most From Federal Infrastructure Dollars

Respondents were asked which infrastructure areas they think will benefit most from the U.S. economic stimulus package over the next 12 months.

Similar to our March survey results, Transportation infrastructure (56%) remains the biggest winner, followed by Alternative Energy infrastructure (43%).

infrastructure project benefiting most from stimulus

We note that Water infrastructure (21%) has experienced the largest increase since our previous survey — jumping a full 10-pts.

Availability of Funding

Since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus package was passed last February, some analysts have criticized how slowly the funds are becoming available.

We asked industry respondents about the current availability of stimulus funds, and 41% said availability is Greater than it was 6 months ago. Only 12% said that stimulus funds are currently less available than previously.

Note that nearly a third of respondents (31%) expect U.S. stimulus funding to have its greatest impact on infrastructure project spending during 2Q 2010.

Infrastructure Projects Poised for Greatest Growth

ChangeWave recently conducted surveys on the Alternative Energy industry and Water industry, so this survey is focused primarily on the Transportation and Electricity/ Smart Grid industries.

First, we asked respondents to identify the key project areas they think will experience the most growth over the next 12 months within each industry:

Which of the following U.S. Infrastructure projects do you think will see the most/least growth in spending over the next 12 months?

Infrastructure Projects Poised for Greatest Growth

We then took a close-up look at infrastructure winners and losers within each industry, beginning with Transportation.

Transportation Infrastructure Projects

A series of questions were posed to 132 industry respondents working for companies involved in U.S. transportation infrastructure projects.

The clear industry winner here is Automotive Infrastructure (e.g., roads and bridges) — which 55% believe will experience the most growth over the next 12 months. Only 7% believe it will experience the least growth (Net Difference Score = +48).

Transportation Infrastructure Projects

While this is somewhat lower than our previous survey, the decrease may be due to the fact that a number of "shovel-ready" road and bridge projects have already been funded.

Companies to Watch

Respondents were asked which transportation infrastructure companies will benefit most over the next 12-24 months. Both Caterpillar (CAT; 89%; up 2-pts) and CEMEX (CX; 48%; down 1-pt) continue to rank at the top of the list — not surprising given the major role they play in automotive infrastructure (e.g., roads and bridges).

As respondent CHU53498 puts it, “Road construction has a lot of ‘shovel ready’ projects, and if you look at the bulldozers, backhoes, power shovels, earthmovers, etc., most of the heavy equipment is Caterpillar.” Indeed, CAT is the world’s largest maker of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, and industrial turbines.

Located in more than 50 countries across five continents, CEMEX is also well positioned as a supplier of cement, concrete and other building materials for upgrading roads and bridges.

Jacobs Engineering (JEC; 35%; up 1-pt) is another momentum firm cited by respondents. We note the company provides a broad range of technical services and management for civil construction projects, and the infrastructure market accounts for roughly 10% of JEC’s overall revenues.

Fluor (FLR; 42%; down 1-pt) — a global leader in engineering, procurement and construction — also ranks high on the list and is well-known for managing government funded projects. But U.S. transportation projects only represent a small percentage of its overall revenues.

Electricity and Smart Grid Infrastructure

A series of questions were posed to 112 respondents working for companies involved in U.S. Electricity/Smart Grid infrastructure projects, and we found Control Systems (+33) — including generators, switches and circuit breakers — to be the top area in which respondents expect to see spending growth over the next 12 months.

Electricity and Smart Grid Infrastructure

This represents a major leap in momentum for the Control Systems space compared to our survey results of 6 months ago (from +13 back in March to +33 currently).

Note that while Power Lines (+5) still remains in positive territory, it’s taken a precipitous fall since our March survey (from +26 down to +5).

Smart Grids

Importantly, Smart Meters and Meter Infrastructure (+44) are expected to experience the most growth over the next year within the Smart Grid sector — as the Administration’s latest release of $3.4 billion so clearly points out.

Smart Grids

Companies to Watch

ABB Ltd. (ABB) is one of the most active companies in the electricity transmission and distribution space, according to respondents. It’s very well positioned in the Control Systems area and is expected to get a significant boost from increased U.S. government spending.

“ABB is the company most likely to benefit from momentum in the Control Systems space,” according to ChangeWave analyst Josh Levine. "The drive to replace aged infrastructure, improve grid reliability, and develop energy-efficient and environmentally friendly solutions are having a direct impact on ABB’s power business.”

Of course, General Electric (GE) and Siemens AG (SI) are both integral suppliers for major energy infrastructure projects and are seen as top beneficiaries of the U.S. stimulus program.

Another company to watch, according to respondents, is EMCOR Group (EME), a leader in mechanical and electrical construction and energy infrastructure. EME combines its expertise and services with a broad national footprint that enables it to quickly mobilize for a wide range of projects, particularly those generated by the stimulus plan.

In terms of the Smart Grid, respondents continue to view Johnson Controls (JCI) as best positioned over the next 12-24 months. As a major battery manufacturer and a leading innovator in electrical storage, JCI is developing better lithium and advanced batteries for automobiles and the grid.

“Johnson Controls will be a central player in the sustainable hybrid and electric vehicle industry in the U.S.,” says Levine. “Having recently received a $300 million stimulus grant from the DOE, JCI is set to build manufacturing capacity for advanced batteries in the newest generation of energy-efficient automobiles — and will be a major player as the ‘smarter’ electricity infrastructure takes shape.”

Itron (ITRI) — has a major portion of its business focused on Smart Meters and Meter Infrastructure for electric utilities, and appears to have significant momentum going forward. The market drivers for ITRI are numerous: energy legislation, increased funding, the move to open standards, the economic value proposition of smart grids — all of which should keep capital flowing for upgrading meter infrastructure.

Bottom Line

Here’s a quick summary of the infrastructure projects in the Transportation and Electricity/Smart Grid sectors that are expected to see the most growth from U.S. federal stimulus spending, along with the companies most expected to benefit.

infrastructure projects expected to see the most growth from stimulus spending

Mike Wrobel co-wrote this article.

Article printed from InvestorPlace Media,

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