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Crown Castle at 52-Week High on Tower Development Buyout

Leading wireless tower operator Crown Castle International Corp. CCI rallied to a 52-week high of $88.82 on Apr 11, close on the heels of the acquisition of Tower Development Corp. for $461 million.

However, the company ended the day’s trading a trifle lower at $87.51. Meanwhile, over the past six months, the stock has returned above 7%.

Notably, Tower Development owns and operates 336 towers in the U.S. and Puerto Rico with an average of two tenants per tower. Crown Castle expects the deal to contribute around $25 million to $27 million to site rental gross margin in the first full year of the company’s ownership and prove immediately accretive to its Adjusted Funds from Operations (AFFO) per share.

Meanwhile, at the end of 2015, Crown Castle had operations in 100 popular U.S. markets, with over 40,000 towers and roughly 17,000 small-cell nodes supported by around 16,000 miles of fiber backhaul. This should bolster the company’s top line going forward.

We note that Crown Castle reported mixed financial numbers in the fourth quarter of 2015, wherein the top line beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate while the bottom line lagged the same.

Moreover, the company has raised its guidance for full-year 2016. The upgraded outlook reflects strong fourth-quarter 2015 results, expectations of similar leasing activity in 2016 when compared to 2015 and the timing benefit related to tenant non-renewals occurring later than previously expected.

Also, continual dividend payments should bolster investor confidence in the company and thus improve its market position. Notably, Crown Castle is confident about maintaining its long-term goal of delivering AFFO per share and dividend per share growth of 6% to 7%, on an annual basis.

However, customer concentration is very high for Crown Castle. Historically, the top four among its customers, namely, Verizon Communications Inc. VZ, AT&T, Inc. T, Sprint Corp. S and T-Mobile US, Inc. TMUS, account for the majority of its total revenue. Loss of any of these customers or consolidation among them will significantly affect the company’s top line.

Nonetheless, an extensive tower portfolio, increased demand for the company’s infrastructure, strong business outlook, healthy leasing activity, continual acquisition of towers and growing demand for mobile broadband are likely to benefit the company. Also, investments made in the small cell networks space bode well.

Crown Castle currently has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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CROWN CASTLE (CCI): Free Stock Analysis Report
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