On Dec 4, we maintained our Neutral recommendation on Crown Castle International Inc. (CCI - Free Report) , as the company reported mixed financial results with the bottom line missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate but the top line surpassing the same.
Why Maintained at Neutral?
Higher usage of smartphones and tablets and increased deployment of 4G LTE networks have propelled demand for tower requirement by large carriers. Moreover, the acquisition of NextG Networks Inc. (which comprises 7,000 Distributed Antenna Systems) and the purchase of 7,200 wireless towers from T-Mobile USA (TMUS - Free Report) have made it the largest wireless tower operator in the U.S.
Furthermore, the company has entered into a definitive agreement with telecom giant AT&T Inc. to acquire exclusive rights of 9,700 wireless towers of the latter for a total consideration of $4.85 billion
As transporting equipment from one tower to another is cumbersome, carriers normally renew contracts upon expiration. This implies that a high percentage of Crown Castle’s revenue is recurring.
Recently, the company decided to convert its tower business into a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT). An REIT status will benefit the company in terms of tax savings and enhance long-term shareholders wealth. Moreover, it will minimize the weighted average cost of capital (WACC). Following the conversion, Crown Castle will distribute 90% of its earnings through dividends every year, reducing tax.
However, a highly leveraged balance sheet and the ongoing merger deals with large telecom carriers may act as headwinds for the company going forward. Moreover, Crown Castle is currently trading at a 52-week high.
Crown Castle carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
Other Stocks Outlook in Related Industries
Other stocks in this sector like American Tower Corp. (AMT - Free Report) , ADTRAN Inc. (ADTN - Free Report) and SBA Communications Corp. (SBAC - Free Report) are set to gain from the robust growth of LTE deployment in the upcoming days.