Editors' pick: Originally published April 28.
America may be the globe's biggest economy, but it often resembles a banana republic.
The crumbling infrastructure of the United States presents a litany of woes that are unworthy of a superpower: unreliable mass transit; collapsing bridges; exploding tanker cars; leaking pipelines; pockmarked roads and highways ... the list goes on. This pressing need is a huge moneymaking opportunity for investors.
And whether Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump wins in November, the overdue infrastructure bill is certain to land on the president's desk.
To be sure, liberals tend to favor infrastructure spending to a greater degree than conservatives do.
However, Democrats and Republicans alike won't be able to ignore the growing danger to public health and safety. Just ask the politicians in Flint, Mich., who are getting pilloried for allowing the city's public water supply to become toxic.
According to an American Society of Civil Engineers study, the U.S. needs about $3.6 trillion in infrastructure investments between now and 2020 to get the country's bridges, roads, sewer systems and other infrastructure up to standard.
President Barack Obama's National Economic Council recently reported that 65% of America's major roads are rated in less than good condition, one in four bridges require significant repair or can't handle today's traffic,and 45% of Americans lack access to transit.
Martin Marietta, which benefits from this massive, unstoppable investment trend is scheduled to report first-quarter earnings on Monday. The results are expected to be strong, making the stock a buy ahead of operating results.
The average consensus earnings forecast for the quarter is 35 cents a share, compared with 7 cents a year earlier. For the current second quarter, the projection is for earnings of $1.98 a share, compared with $1.22 a year earlier.
For the full year, earnings are expected to come in at $6.68 a share, compared with $4.50 in 2015.
Martin Marietta produces crushed stone, gravel and sand, which are called "aggregates" and are mixed with cement to create concrete for the construction of roadways.
The company operates in four segments: Mid-America group, Southeast group, West group and specialty products. Most of the company's revenue is generated in Canada and the United States.
Martin Marietta also produces chemical additives for ceramics and water treatment, as well as fiber-reinforced polymer products for use in bridge decks, truck trailers, railroad cars and residential construction. The company maintains several ready-mix concrete operations in Arkansas, Colorado and Texas.
The company operates about 300 quarries, distribution yards and factories. In 2014, Martin Marietta purchased Texas Industries, a competing producer of construction materials, for $2.06 billion, which made it the largest U.S. producer of construction aggregates in the country.
Texas Industries is the largest cement producer in Texas, the state that consumes the most cement and aggregates. The merger positioned Martin Marietta to benefit from the rebound in the U.S. residential construction industry, in addition to greater public infrastructure spending.
With a trailing 12-month price-to-earnings ratio of 40.32, Martin Marietta is more expensive than competitor Fluor (19.64) and the industry (21.14) but far cheaper than chief rival Vulcan Materials (67.71).
Martin Marietta shares trade at more than $172. The one-year median analyst price target is $182.50, but it is $200 on the high end, which would represent a gain of 16%.
For the year to date, Martin Marietta's shares are up more than 26%.
Clinton or Trump? It doesn't matter to Martin Marietta.
Get on board now, before the stock's next upward ride.
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