Infrastructure Winner: AECOM Expected to Keep Hitting New Highs

InfrastructureAECOM Technology Corp. (NYSE: ACM) is set for new highs. For those of you who follow the companies that will win from the inevitable yet elusive infrastructure rebuilding, AECOM is one you must watch. Bank of America Merrill Lynch raised its rating to Buy on Friday, based on a strong free cash flow turnaround story.

What is more important than a mere upgrade here is that this new Buy rating is not a one-notch upgrade from Neutral. AECOM previously had an Underperform rating at BofA. The other issue is that the price target was raised to $35 from the prior $20 price target. This is no mere upgrade. This is a parabolic role reversal.

The firm's upgrade now projects that AECOM will generate about $1 billion worth of cumulative free cash flow in the next three years. This represents about one-third of its market capitalization. BofA admits that the move got ahead of its prior call and said, "Despite a strong move in the stock off its lows, we think improving organic growth reflected in record backlog and active cash redeployment into its buyback program should continue to drive ACM higher over the next year."

BofA also said, "We think improving organic growth reflected in record backlog and active cash redeployment into its buyback program should continue to drive the stock higher." The firm raised its earnings per share targets: from $2.55 to $2.63 in 2013 and from $2.79 to $2.95 in 2014. These are above-consensus estimates.

As far as why AECOM will win in the infrastructure buildout, its key markets are transportation, environment, facilities, government and energy. AECOM focuses on the front-end design and engineering work, project management and operations and maintenance services.

If you want to see what a solid reversal in analyst calls can do, just look at the share price today. AECOM is up 6% at $29.67, and that is above the prior 52-week range of $14.50 to $28.07. AECOM's market cap after the move is more than $3.2 billion, and it trades at only about 12 times the consensus earnings estimates for 2013 and just over 10 times the expected 2014 earnings per share.

The long and short of the matter is that AECOM does not only have growth opportunity ahead. It also has some "value stock" characteristics, even at a new 52-week high. BofA's $35 price target compares to the Thomson Reuters consensus of $30.75 and is just under the street-high price target of $37.00 for the stock price target.

Here is our feature that is an evergreen piece for infrastructure investors: The 11 Companies That Will Rebuild America's Aging Infrastructure. AECOM is just one of these great mostly American companies.

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Analyst Calls, Economy, Infrastructure Tagged: ACM, featured
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