This odd company collects steady cash producers. By Thomas M. Anderson, Contributing Editor December 31, 2006 Chilled water courses through miles of underground pipes to cool nearly 100 buildings in downtown Chicago. Those pipes form the largest district cooling system in the world, and Macquarie Infrastructure Co. owns them and the plant that supplies the water.Macquarie, a cog in the machine built by Australia's Macquarie Bank, has patched together a crazy quilt of stable businesses. The New York City-based holding company controls the sole natural-gas utility in Hawaii, parking garages near 20 major airports and bulk-liquid storage facilities. Macquarie (symbol MIC) also runs refueling depots and hangars at 41 airports and one heliport that primarily serve the corporate jet set. All these businesses produce steady cash flow, most of which Macquarie pays out to shareholders as dividends. Based on Macquarie's latest annualized dividend of $2.20 a share, the stock, at $30 in mid November, yields a generous 7.3%. And those dividends qualify for the 15% federal income-tax rate, making this a compelling stock for high-bracket income seekers. Macquarie is especially attractive in comparison with utilities and real estate investment trusts, which have seen their yields shrink as their shares have appreciated, says Preston Athey, manager of T. Rowe Price Small-Cap Value fund. Macquarie has long-term contracts that stabilize operating costs and allow it to pass higher costs to customers, says chief executive Peter Stokes. "A modest rate of inflation can actually improve our bottom line," he says. Advertisement Raymond James analyst Ted Gardner expects Macquarie's experienced executives and bevy of boring businesses to help the company produce an earnings-growth rate slightly better than the inflation rate. Its best growth prospects over the next five years will likely come from its airport-services division, says Gardner. He expects cash available for distribution to rise to $2.31 per share in 2007. Macquarie gives you access to diverse infrastructure businesses. That makes the firm a cool defensive play should the U.S. economy chill.