American Tower Corporation's (AMT - Free Report) senior unsecured debt rating was reiterated at Baa3 by Moody’s Investors Service, the rating division of Moody’s Corporation (MCO - Free Report) . The company’s stable outlook has been retained as well.
Moreover, its senior unsecured shelf rating was affirmed at (P)Baa3. These rating affirmations impact approximately $15.3 billion in American Tower’s rated securities.
Reasons for Affirmation
American Tower's Baa3 senior unsecured rating affirmation was primarily driven by the company’s robust cash flows, decent liquidity, wide geographic footprint and predictable future earnings backed by long-term non-cancellable lease agreements that carry embedded contractual rent escalators.
Specifically, Moody’s believes that 168,855 wireless towers in its portfolio in 17 countries spanning across five continents at second-quarter end well position American Tower to benefit from the favorable growth trends in global tower industry. Notably, amid growing demand for data volume, and higher investments in 4G and 5G technology deployments, wireless carriers are expanding and enhancing their networks. These positive trends are likely to aid American Tower to witness higher leasing activity and organic tenant billings growth in the future.
The rating agency expects American Tower’s operating performance to remain solid in the next 12-18 months with net debt/EBITDA in the 5x-6x range as the company undertakes growth initiatives. Its strong liquidity position is also supported by access to two unsecured revolvers totaling $4.95 billion, limited near-term debt maturities and easy access to capital markets financing.
Nonetheless, these credit strengths are marred by concerns over this tower REIT’s high tenant concentration in its domestic market and high effective leverage (which was 69.4% as of Jun 30, 2019).
Moreover, the stable outlook indicates Moody's expectation that American Tower will be able to keep leverage under 6x even as it pursues external growth opportunities and preserve liquidity strength.
The rating agency’s latest move affirms American Tower’s creditworthiness in the market and is likely to boost investor confidence. In fact, such actions provide companies an opportunity to enjoy favorable costs on debts and solid access to capital.
Shares of this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company have rallied 9% over the past three months compared with its industry’s growth of 6%.
Stocks to Consider
Investors can also consider some better-ranked stocks from the same space like Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. (ARE - Free Report) and Extra Space Storage Inc. (EXR - Free Report) , both carrying a Zacks Rank of 2 (Buy), at present. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
Alexandria Real Estate’s Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2019 funds from operations (FFO) per share has remained unchanged at $6.98 in the past month.
Extra Space Storage's Zacks Consensus Estimate for the ongoing year’s FFO per share has climbed marginally to $4.87 in a month’s time.
Note: Anything related to earnings presented in this write-up represent funds from operations (FFO) — a widely used metric to gauge the performance of REITs.
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