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Crown Castle: Earnings Preview

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Crown Castle International Inc.(CCI - Free Report) is set to release its fourth-quarter 2012 results after the market closes on Wednesday, January 23.

In the last quarter, it delivered a break-even earnings surprise. Out of the last three quarters, the company twice reported break-even earnings surprises. Let’s see how things are shaping up prior to the announcement.

Factors to Consider this Quarter

Higher usage of smartphones and tablets has forced the four major carriers in the U.S. to continuously upgrade their LTE networks. Consequently, this may help Crown Castle to bolster its top-line growth in the fourth quarter.

Moreover, the completion of the tower agreement with T-Mobile USA will further boost Crown Castle’s growth opportunity as they have gained access to 7,200 wireless towers of T-Mobile USA for a weighted average term of nearly 28 years.

Despite such strong fundamentals, Crown Castle has a highly leveraged balance sheet, which may act as a headwind for the company going forward. Additionally, a continuous change in technology and higher customer concentration may together exert further pressure on the company’s profitability.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the fourth quarter remained unchanged at 13 cents per share over the last 7 days.

Earnings Whispers

Our proven model does not conclusively show that Crown Castle is likely to beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in the fourth quarter. That is because a stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP (Expected Surprise Prediction) and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or at least Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) or Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) for this to happen. Unfortunately this is not the case here as elaborated below.

Negative Zacks ESP: This is because the Most Accurate estimate stands at $0.12 while the Zacks Consensus is higher at 13 cents. This results in a difference of negative 7.7%.

Zacks Rank #2 (Buy): Crown Castle’s Zacks Rank of 2, however, increases the predictive power of ESP. That said we also need to have a positive ESP to be confident for an earnings surprise call.

Other Stocks to Consider

Here are some other companies you may want to consider as our model shows they have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this quarter:

Arris Group Inc. (ARRS - Free Report) has Earnings ESP of a 0.00% and carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). It is scheduled to report its fourth quarter results on February 25.

SBA Communications Corp. (SBAC - Free Report) will release its fourth quarter results on February 18. It has Earnings ESP of +28.57% and holds a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

MetroPCS Communications, Inc. has Earnings ESP of + 53.85% and carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). It is scheduled to release its fourth quarter results on February 26.


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