In early January reports to investors, construction stock analysts offered perspectives for 2018 sector growth. Maxim Sytchev, managing director of research for National Bank of Canada, noted that, while the firms he covers spent $11 billion on acquisitions in the past decade, their cumulative median share price appreciated just 6% in that time. He wondered “why management teams insist on this type of capital deployment, and where can we find relative value?” Sytchev sees potential improvement in infrastructure and commodities-related work.

“Industry fundamentals offer some of their better growth prospects in years,” said Andrew Wittmann, senior research analyst at Baird Equity. He sees a slowing of backlog declines reported by covered firms in seven of the past eight quarters and “strong momentum” in private-sector infrastructure.