“You and I come by road or rail but economists travel on infrastructure” - thus spake former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1985 to the Conservative Women's Conference.
At the time, she said: “You might have heard a lot lately about ‘infrastructure’ - the new ‘in’ word. Some of you might even ask exactly what it is.”
More than 30 years on, many investors are still asking what is infrastructure; certainly it seems to be the “new ‘in’ word” among investment professionals.
Most people can name what ‘infrastructure’ means in terms of a country’s expenditure: roads, rail, schools, healthcare and utilities such as gas or electricity. For the US, this might even encompass wall building.
It’s a means by which a government spends in order to create more businesses, more jobs, improve transport links and thereby boost the economy.
But there is a lot more to the investable infrastructure universe than assets that have traditionally been the purview of public sector involvement.
According to Nick Langley, co-chief executive and co-chief investment officer at RARE Infrastructure, a Legg Mason affiliate, “one of the first things you realise when looking into the infrastructure asset class is that everyone's definition of what ‘infrastructure’ is varies".
“Our view is we are looking for hard assets providing an essential service to an economy, and which have a degree of price certainty built in, so we know the asset is going to get paid for providing the service. It is this approach that forms the basis of our thinking.”
This special report will look at how infrastructure stocks perform, compared to other equity markets. It will also assess the yield opportunities in infrastructure, which regions are likely to benefit from increased infrastructure spending and whether investors should be positioned in domestic or global infrastructure stocks.
Contributors to this report: Ian Simm, chief executive of Impax Asset Management; Collins Roth, managing director at MPC Industrial Projects; Chris Leyland, chief investment officer for True Potential; Mike Pinggera, manager of the Sanlam Four multi-strategy fund; James Smith, portfolio manager for Premier Asset Management; Nick Langley, co-chief executive and co-chief investment officer at RARE Infrastructure, a Legg Mason affiliate; Mar Beltran for Standard & Poor's Global Ratings; William Argent, portfolio manager for Gravis Capital Management; McKinsey & Co.
Simoney Kyriakou is content plus editor for FTAdviser