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What's in Store for Crown Castle (CCI) This Earnings Season?

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Crown Castle International Corp. (CCI - Free Report) is scheduled to release third-quarter 2021 results on Oct 20, after the closing bell. The company’s quarterly results will likely highlight growth in revenues as well as funds from operations (FFO) per share.

In the last reported quarter, this Houston-based real estate investment trust (REIT) surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in terms of adjusted funds from operations (AFFO) per share by 3%. The better-than-expected performance was driven by growth in site-rental revenues.

Over the preceding four quarters, Crown Castle surpassed the FFO per share estimates on each occasion, the average beat being 12.77%. This is depicted in the graph below:

Let’s see how things have shaped up prior to this announcement.

Factors to Note

During the third quarter, tower REITs like Crown Castle, American Tower Corp. (AMT - Free Report) and SBA Communications (SBAC - Free Report) are likely to have benefited from the secular growth trends in the wireless industry. As the data volume for the wireless and wired networks has been growing rapidly amid the widespread adoption of smartphones and applications, network carriers continued to spend on network deployments, in a bid to harness spectrum abilities as well as improve and densify their cell sites and coverage.

Crown Castle’s extensive portfolio of more than 40,000 towers is spread across the top 100 markets in the United States. This portfolio has been attracting businesses from carriers that are seeking network expansion and densification amid the growing mobile-data scenario.

The company has been making efforts to strengthen its communication infrastructure footprint. It has been investing considerably in its fiber segment through acquisitions, construction and new deployments of small cells and fiber. Besides a magnified focus on small-cell leasing, the ability to offer a holistic network solution provides Crown Castle a competitive edge over other tower companies.

Long-term (typically 5-15 year) tower lease agreements with the top U.S. carriers are anticipated to have contributed to recurring site rentals during the September-end quarter. The consensus estimate for net revenues from site rentals is pegged at $1.45 billion for the third quarter, suggesting 8% year-over-year growth.

An increased tower activity, backed by other growth drivers, is likely to have fueled Crown Castle’s network services revenues during the third quarter. The consensus estimate for net revenues from the network services and other segment is pinned at $164 million for the quarter under review, suggesting an 11.6% year-over-year jump.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the third-quarter revenues is pegged at $1.6 billion, suggesting a year-over-year increase of 8.1%.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the quarterly FFO per share has moved up marginally to $1.72 over the past 60 days. Further, it calls for a 10.3% increase from the prior-year quarter’s reported figure.

Here is what our quantitative model predicts:

We cannot conclusively predict that Crown Castle will be able to beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate this time. This is because the company doesn't have the right combination of two key ingredients — a positive Earnings ESP and Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) or higher — for increasing the odds of an earnings beat.

You can uncover the best stocks to buy or sell before they’re reported with our Earnings ESP Filter.

Earnings ESP: The Earnings ESP for Crown Castle is 0.00%.

Zacks Rank: It currently carries a Zacks Rank #3. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

A Stock That Warrants a Look

Here is a stock from the REIT sector that you may want to consider, as our model shows that it has the right combination of elements to report a surprise this quarter:

Apple Hospitality REIT (APLE - Free Report) , slated to release third-quarter earnings on Nov 4, has an Earnings ESP of +26.67% and sports a Zacks Rank of 1, at present.

Note: Anything related to earnings presented in this write-up represents funds from operations (FFO) — a widely used metric to gauge the performance of REITs.