Why Transurban Group shareholders could profit from Sydney’s traffic congestion

Credit: Steffen Ramsaier

According to the international TomTom Traffic Index 2016, Australians are unfortunately spending more time stuck in traffic than they ever have previously.

In fact, Sydney now outranks New York City’s traffic congestion with the average Sydney driver spending around 151 hours stuck in traffic each year. Melbourne didn’t fair too well either being ranked as having the world’s 75th most congested roads.

With the average full-time Australian worker receiving four weeks of annual leave each year, this means Sydney drivers are now spending more time stuck in traffic than they are on leave. Not a great statistic to say the least!

As Australia’s population grows, I’m sure both cities will climb even higher in the rankings. Because of this I believe there is one company in particular on the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) that stands to benefit.

That company is Australia’s toll road king Transurban Group (ASX: TCL).

Transurban has a total of 12 roads in its Australian portfolio. These include CityLink in Melbourne, six roads in the Sydney orbital network, and five roads in Brisbane.

Its CityLink road in Melbourne has 2.1 million vehicles registered to use the road and links the West Gate, Tullamarine and Monash freeways. I believe CityLink has become a key road for the city, connecting Melbourne’s manufacturing hubs, its city centre, port, and airport.

The Westlink M7 in Sydney is the other key road in the company’s portfolio, in my opinion. It provides better access to western Sydney and helps motorists avoid almost 50 sets of traffic lights. A real timesaver in one of the world’s most congested cities.

The company has the rights to operate these roads until 2035 and 2048, respectively. This should ensure a predictable revenue stream for the company for the next two decades at least. This is a great quality for an investment and a key reason why I feel Transurban is a great buy and hold share.

Priced at 39 times estimated forward earnings means the shares do not come cheap. According to CommSec, analysts are expecting earnings to grow by an average of 60% per annum through to 2018. I believe this does go some way to justify paying a premium for the shares ahead of competitor Macquarie Atlas Roads Limited (ASX: MQA).

Foolish takeaway

As roads get busier and the public gets ever more time poor, I expect Transurban will profit greatly. It may not be alone in benefitting from an increasing number of cars on the road. Another company that is likely to prosper from this is fuel-operator Caltex Australia Limited (ASX: CTX). Both companies could be great long-term investments today.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any stocks mentioned. Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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