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Shares of materials companies up on Trump wall, pipeline plans

By Lewis Krauskopf

By Lewis Krauskopf

(Reuters) - Share prices surged on Wednesday for U.S. companies that could benefit from U.S. President Trump's plans to push ahead with a border wall with Mexico and his approval of key energy pipeline expansion projects.

The stocks were leaders in a broad-based rally in U.S. equities that helped push the benchmark S&P 500 <.SPX> to a record high and the Dow Jones Industrial Average above the 20,000 mark <.DJI> for the first time.

Standout gainers included crushed stone and concrete providers Martin Marietta Materials Inc <MLM.N>, which hit a record high, and Vulcan Materials Co <VMC.N>, which surged near a record high as well.

Martin Marietta ended up 3.2 percent and Vulcan shares increased 2.2 percent.

Other construction materials companies gained, with Eagle Materials Inc shares <EXP.N> up 4 percent as they touched an all-time high, U.S. Concrete Inc <USCR.O> rising 4.4 percent and Summit Materials Inc <SUM.N> increasing 3.5 percent. U.S.-listed shares of Mexican cement company Cemex <CMXCPO.MX><CX.N> rose 3.7 percent and touched a 1-1/2-year high.

"It seems clear that there's guys putting on trades related to the wall," said Adam Thalhimer, analyst at Thompson, Davis & Company.

Wednesday's gains added to the massive stock run for construction and engineering companies since the election, fueled by Trump's vow to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure projects.

Trump signed a directive on Wednesday to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border as he charged ahead with sweeping and divisive plans to transform how the United States deals with immigration and national security.

Martin Marietta, which claims to have the leading cement position in Texas and operates two production facilities in the state, derives 34 percent of its total revenue from Texas, according to Thalhimer.

Summit Materials receives 26 percent of revenue from the state, while U.S. Concrete takes in 27 percent of its overall revenue from north Texas and 10 percent from the southern and western parts of the state, Thalhimer said.

Eagle Materials jointly owns a cement production plant in Texas that is poised to see increased pricing stemming from the border wall project, CL King analyst Jim Barrett said in a research note.

On Tuesday, Trump cleared big energy pipeline projects and directed that contractors use American steel.

Jefferies analyst Seth Rosenfeld said construction of the Keystone pipeline will be "a net positive for secondary steel consumption and for the construction industry."

Rosenfeld said Keystone installation should benefit companies including Nucor <NUE.N>, Steel Dynamics <STLD.O> and Commercial Metals Co <CMC.N>.

Commercial Metal shares rose 3.3 percent, while Nucor and Steel Dynamics fell 2 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively, after climbing on Tuesday. Steel Dynamics reported quarterly results late on Tuesday.

Specialty pipe maker Northwest Pipe Co <NWPX.O> rose 2.7 percent after rising 6 percent on Wednesday.

Construction companies that generate significant revenue from pipelines, including Quanta Services <PWR.N>, MasTec <MTZ.N> and Primoris Services Corp <PRIM.O>, were poised to benefit, Thalhimer said.

"They have been getting really yanked around by the onerous permitting process, so just if they can get better clarity on when these jobs are going to start, it would be really beneficial to their business and their margins," Thalhimer said.

Quanta Services shares were up 0.5 percent, MasTec gained 1.4 percent, and Primoris rose 3 percent.

(Reporting By Lewis Krauskopf and Dan Burns in New York, Mike Stone in Washington and Sai Sachin Ravikumar in Bangalore; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

 

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