Strong demand stemming from positive momentum of the U.S. housing market will benefit companies under the Zacks
Building Products - Concrete & Aggregates industry. Also, a significant boost in infrastructural and public construction spending should continue to favor the industry. Indeed, coronavirus-led restrictions, unprecedented supply-chain disruptions, weather-related woes and higher labor cost are eating into the industry players’ margins. Nonetheless, prominent companies in the industry like Vulcan Materials Company ( VMC Quick Quote VMC - Free Report) , Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. ( MLM Quick Quote MLM - Free Report) , Eagle Materials Inc. ( EXP Quick Quote EXP - Free Report) , Summit Materials, Inc. ( SUM Quick Quote SUM - Free Report) and Cornerstone Building Brands, Inc. ( CNR Quick Quote CNR - Free Report) have been gaining from the positives. Industry Description
The Zacks Building Products - Concrete & Aggregates industry consists of manufacturers, distributors and sellers of construction materials like aggregates, concrete along with other related items for public infrastructure, residential and nonresidential as well as other end markets. The materials also include gypsum wallboard, recycled paperboard, concrete blocks, ready-mix concrete, and oil and gas proppants. The industry players are also involved in designing, engineering, manufacturing, marketing, and installation of external building products for commercial, residential, and repair and remodel markets in domestic as well as international markets.
3 Trends Shaping the Future of Concrete & Aggregates Industry
: Positive momentum of the U.S. housing market and focus on enhancing the country’s infrastructure by upgrading highways, railroads, bridges, and broadband are expected to be key catalysts for the industry. Solid housing market conditions in the United States backed by the rising need for more work-at-home space and historically-low mortgage rates are expected to be a major tailwind for the industry participants. Focus on Reviving Infrastructure & Housing Sector Rebound Meanwhile, on Nov 15, 2021, President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan infrastructure bill of $550 billion in addition to approved funds of $450 billion for five years in August. Total spending may go up to $1.2 trillion if the plan is extended to eight years. This bill comprises new investments in almost every infrastructure sector over the next five-year period, including transportation, energy, broadband and water. Out of the total allotted spending, the infrastructure development law will provide $100 billion toward roads, bridges and other major projects. It will invest $66 billion in freight and passenger rail, including potential upgrades to Amtrak. The project will provide $11 billion toward reducing car crashes and fatalities through a “Safe Streets for All” program. Biden administration’s endeavor to pump money for rebuilding the nation's roads, bridges, and other infrastructure would give construction companies like Vulcan, Martin Marietta, and others a solid foundation for growth. : The industry participants follow a well chalked-out acquisition plan to enhance domestic and international portfolios. Meanwhile, companies are increasingly focusing on reducing controllable costs and maximizing operating efficiency across business lines to generate higher earnings as well as cash flow. Acquisitions & Focus on Operating Efficiency : The industry players are struggling with shortage of skilled laborers, rising wage costs and escalating material expenses. The companies use electricity, diesel fuel, liquid asphalt and other petroleum-based resources. Hence, supply-related woes and significant fluctuation in the prices of these resources affect operating results. The businesses are exposed to weather-related risks that affect production schedules and hence profitability. Excessive rainfall, flooding or severe drought jeopardize shipments and production. The first and fourth quarters are mostly affected by winter. Again, hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf Coast are most active during these quarters. These impediments may continue to bump up costs and mar profits of the industry participants. Shortage of Skilled Labors, Fluctuation in Input Prices & Weather Woes Zacks Industry Rank Indicates Dull Prospects
The Zacks Building Products - Concrete & Aggregates industry is a 11-stock group within the broader Zacks
Construction sector. The industry currently carries a Zacks Industry Rank #199, which places it in the bottom 21% of more than 250 Zacks industries. The group’s Zacks Industry Rank, which is basically the average of the Zacks Rank of all the member stocks, indicates tepid near-term prospects. Our research shows that the top 50% of the Zacks-ranked industries outperforms the bottom 50% by a factor of more than 2 to 1. The industry’s positioning in the bottom 50% of the Zacks-ranked industries is a result of negative earnings outlook for the constituent companies in aggregate. Looking at the aggregate earnings estimate revisions, it appears that analysts are gradually losing confidence in this group’s bottom-line growth potential. Since September 2021, the industry’s earnings estimates for 2021 and 2022 have been revised 3.7% and 5% downward, respectively. Despite the industry’s gloomy near-term view, we will present a few stocks that one may consider adding to their portfolio. Before that, it’s worth taking a look at the industry’s shareholder returns and current valuation. Industry Outperforms Sector and S&P 500
The Zacks Building Products - Concrete & Aggregates industry has outperformed the broader Zacks Construction sector as well as the Zacks S&P 500 composite over the past year.
Stocks in this industry have collectively have gained 52.3% versus the broader sector and the S&P 500's rise of 32% in the same period. One-Year Price Performance
Industry's Current Valuation
On the basis of the forward 12-month price to earnings, which is a commonly used multiple for valuing Building Products - Concrete & Aggregates stocks, the industry is currently trading at 19.8X versus the S&P 500’s 22.1X and the sector’s 15.5X.
Over the past five years, the industry has traded as high as 26.2X, as low as 13X and at a median of 19.9X, as the chart below shows. Industry’s P/E Ratio (Forward 12-Month) Versus S&P 500
5 Concrete & Aggregates Stocks to Keep a Close Eye On
We have discussed five stocks from the industry that have solid growth potential. The chosen companies currently carry a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
Summit Materials: Based in Denver, CO, this is a construction material company. Migration activity amid the pandemic continues to favor the company’s rural and exurban markets. Additionally, strong execution of its Elevate Summit strategy and higher average selling prices for aggregates have been aiding the company to drive growth. It remains focused on sustainable improvement via investments in greenfields and end markets that are underpinned by sturdy growth fundamentals. Summit Materials has gained 113.6% over the past year. This Zacks Rank #3 company’s earnings estimates for 2021 and 2022 have moved 1.9% and 1.4% upward in the past 30 days. Meanwhile, earnings for 2021 and 2022 are expected to grow 29.6% and 40.3%, respectively. Price and Consensus: SUM Eagle Materials Inc.: This Dallas, TX-based company produces and supplies heavy construction materials, light building materials, and materials used for oil and natural gas extraction in the United States. Improved cement, concrete and aggregates sales volume as well as solid contribution from the recently-acquired Kosmos Cement business have been aiding the company. Higher pricing is also adding to the positives. Eagle Materials currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 and has gained 73.3% in the past year. Its earnings estimates for fiscal 2022 have moved 0.3% up in the past 30 days. Earnings for fiscal 2022 and 2023 are expected to grow 33.1% and 19%, respectively. Price and Consensus: EXP Cornerstone Building Brands: This Cary, NC-based company is the manufacturer of exterior building products, mainly in North America. It is gaining traction, courtesy of higher volume leverage on robust demand for residential products and benefits from cost-reduction initiatives. Although Cornerstone Building Brands has been experiencing supply chain disruptions, strong residential end markets have been helping it navigate through the situation. The company’s strong operational execution is positioning Cornerstone Building Brands for long-term profitable growth. Cornerstone Building currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 and has gained 88.4% over the past year. The company’s 2021 and 2022 earnings are expected to increase 508.3% and 39.3%, respectively.
Price and Consensus: CNR Martin Marietta Materials, Inc.: Based in Raleigh, NC, Martin Marietta produces and supplies construction aggregates as well as other heavy building materials — mainly cement — in the United States. Single-family housing strength, expanded infrastructure investment and heavy industrial projects of scale are expected to support near-term shipment levels. Also, the Tiller buyout complements Martin Marietta’s product offerings, thereby broadening its geographic reach and creating a leading aggregates position in the Minneapolis/St. Paul region. Further, the buyout of Southern Crushed Concrete is expected to help the company grow in the area of recycled concrete, which is principally used as a base aggregates product in infrastructure, commercial and residential construction applications. Martin Marietta currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 and has gained 55.8% in the past year. Earnings for 2021 are expected to rise 3.6% and the same for 2022 is likely to grow 19.9%. Price and Consensus: MLM Vulcan Materials Company: This Birmingham, AL-based company produces and supplies construction aggregates, asphalt mix as well as ready-mixed concrete. The company’s focus on four strategic initiatives — Commercial Excellence, Operational Excellence, Strategic Sourcing, and Logistics Innovation — will enhance price performance as well as operating efficiencies. Vulcan Materials has been generating higher earnings despite tepid revenues on the back of prudent cost-control efforts and increased pricing in aggregates. Its focus on a systematic inorganic strategy for expansion is adding to the positives. Vulcan currently carries a Zacks Rank #3. Although the company’s shares have underperformed the industry over the past year, rising 41.8% over the period, earnings for 2021 and 2022 are expected to grow 6.6% and 22.7%, respectively. Price and Consensus: VMC