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Construction and marijuana companies are poised to benefit from the Liberal Party’s decisive win in Canada’s election, with leader Justin Trudeau vowing to fund infrastructure spending with deficits and legalize cannabis. Energy companies may face a tougher ride.
“Infrastructure and construction is the clear No. 1 area that could benefit,” David Doyle, North American economist and strategist at Macquarie Group Ltd. in Canada, said Tuesday in a telephone interview. “There’s big, big new investment in infrastructure proposed by the Liberal Party.”
The Liberals pledge an average of $4.2 billion of new spending on projects including bridges over the next four fiscal years starting in 2016 as they seek to stoke an economy that shrank in the first half of this year amid oil’s collapse. Engineering firms WSP Global Inc., Stantec Inc., Aecon Group Inc. and SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. could benefit from that promise, according to Macquarie. Stocks of those companies rose, led by Aecon’s 3.9 percent increase as of 10:37 a.m. in Toronto.
“We believe Aecon is well positioned to benefit from the Liberal government’s commitment to public infrastructure," GMP Capital Inc. analyst Greg Mcleish said in a Tuesday note. “Aecon has a healthy bidding pipeline on new infrastructure projects that could be fast tracked under the New Building Canada Fund."
Trudeau’s plan for $25 billion in deficits over the next three years distinguished him from incumbent Stephen Harper of the Conservatives and Tom Mulcair of the New Democratic Party, who had promised balanced budgets. The Liberals were elected or leading in 184 of the 338 seats in the House of Commons, with the Conservatives on pace to take 99 and the New Democratic Party 44, according to preliminary results from Elections Canada. Most polls predicted the Liberals would win a minority government.
Canadian marijuana companies Canopy Growth Corp., Aphria Inc. and Mettrum Health Corp. will be “early winners” on Trudeau’s plan legalize marijuana, Dundee Capital Markets analyst Aaron Salz said in a note Tuesday. Canopy Growth surged as much as 21 percent in Toronto, while Mettrum jumped 18 percent and Aphria rose as much as 15 percent before settling into high single-digit gains.
“The Canadian marijuana space could be set for another revolution following the Liberal Party victory,” Salz said. Trudeau’s vow to legalize and regulate marijuana the ‘right way’ has set in motion the single most important catalyst for the industry
Corporate Canada may stand to benefit from more government spending. While data in recent weeks shows the economy has perked up, gross domestic product is projected to grow just 1.2 percent this year, the slowest pace since 2009, as activity shifts toward the manufacturing provinces of Quebec and Ontario from oil-rich Alberta.
The Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index, Canada’s benchmark equity index, is the third-worst performer of 24 major developed markets over the past year with a loss of 3.2 percent, while the Canadian dollar slumped to an 11-year low against the U.S. greenback, data show. The stock index rose 0.8 percent to 13,875 points at 10:19 a.m. Tuesday in Toronto.
In addition to infrastructure spending, Trudeau also promised to set a different economic direction on the environment. His platform calls for a price to be set on carbon emissions linked to climate change, after talks with provincial governments on implementation. Greener energy producers that could sell credits or avoid new taxes may benefit, such as hydroelectric producers Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners LP and Boralex Inc. Guelph, Ontario-based Canadian Solar Inc., the world’s third-largest producer of solar panels, may also benefit.
The outlook for Canada’s energy producers looks more uncertain. Tougher emissions rules could hurt the shares of companies such as Suncor Energy Inc.-- even though Suncor has asked for a higher price on carbon -- and Imperial Oil Ltd. Oil and gas companies, along with energy infrastructure firms, may fare less favorably under a Liberal majority, according to Macquarie’s Doyle.
“It’s very possible the Liberals could slow the development of new pipeline projects, so that’s a negative generally for the energy infrastructure sector,” Doyle said. “It could lead to continued wide price differentials between Canadian crude oil, heavy crude and the WTI spot price. That would be a negative for the oil-and-gas space.”
The Liberals also place less emphasis on winning U.S. support for TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline than Harper, who made it a major part of his mandate. Trudeau has said he will consider supporting Keystone, which would link the oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries, as well as the Energy East conduit to New Brunswick and the expansion of Kinder Morgan Inc.’s Trans Mountain line to Vancouver. One pipeline he opposes is Northern Gateway, which he says threatens the British Columbia coast.
Pipeline delays would mean higher oil shipments by rail, a potential benefit to Canadian National Railway Co. and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd., according to Canaccord Genuity Group Inc. analysts David Tyerman and Tao Ding.One major government investment Trudeau rules out is the purchase of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 jets, which he said last month are too expensive. The Liberals say the money saved will be used to spend more on Canada’s naval fleet.