Crown Castle International Corp.

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  • Wed, Jan. 27, 6:31 PM
    • Crown Castle International (NYSE:CCI), up 2.2% after hours following a Q4 beat, posted site rental revenue growth of $62M Y/Y (made of $49M in organic growth and $30M from acquisitions including Sunesys, less $17M in adjustments). Organic growth came to 7% Y/Y on a net basis.
    • The Sunesys acquisition (closed on August 4) generated $26M in site rental revenues in Q4; $19M in site rental gross margin.
    • In Q4, CCI invested about $251M in capex, including $23M of land purchases. Most of its $199M in revenue-generating capex came on construction of new sites, mainly small cells.
    • At year-end, the company had about $179M in cash and equivalents. It recently sealed the deal on a new $5.5B credit facility.
    • Conference call to come tomorrow at 8 a.m. ET (moved from a later time).
    • Press release
    • Previously: Crown Castle up slightly after Q4 beat; names CFO Brown next CEO (Jan. 27 2016)
    • Previously: Crown Castle beats by $0.01, beats on revenue (Jan. 27 2016)
    | Wed, Jan. 27, 6:31 PM
  • Tue, Jan. 19, 5:04 PM
    • After largely holding up today following a Friday tumble, Sprint (NYSE:S) sank in late afternoon to finish down another 8.5% today and hit another new 52-week low.
    • Sprint fell nearly 10% Friday after a Re/code report detailing an ambitious plan to relocate equipment from private towers to government-owned spaces -- though earlier, analysts like Jonathan Schildkraut noted that there are years left on some contracts.
    • Tower firms largely bounced back after declining along with Sprint Friday; AMT finished up 2.9%; CCI up 0.5%; while SBAC closed down 1.2%.
    • Analysts today lined up with some skepticism: "What is going on and why is Sprint OK with confusion about their network strategy?" asks BTIG's Walter Piecyk. Using wireless backhaul could work, he says, "however, we are highly skeptical of a strategy that cuts the coverage and broad capacity offered by the macro cell site layer ... In addition, the macro cell sites can be important aggregation points to handle the wireless backhaul of small cells."
    • And potential savings might not be what they seem, says Cowen's Colby Synesael -- any real estate costs money: "The cost of land is not from our understanding a key component of what drives the overall cost for tower rental fees."
    • Previously: Cell tower firms bouncing back after declines on Sprint overhaul report (Jan. 19 2016)
    • Previously: Sprint -9.9% as it plans 'radical' network overhaul; tower firms dip (Jan. 15 2016)
    | Tue, Jan. 19, 5:04 PM | 54 Comments
  • Tue, Jan. 19, 11:02 AM
    • American Tower (NYSE:AMT) is up 2.6% and Crown Castle International (NYSE:CCI) up 2.1%, each rebounding from declines they saw on Friday amid news that Sprint was looking to overhaul its network to move from private tower leases to government-owned properties.
    • Evercore's Jonathan Schildkraut says the tower firms still have years to run (5-6 years on average) on contracts with Sprint, which could face a difficult challenge relocating gear.
    • Meanwhile, Pacific Crest's Michael Bowen suggests the tower companies could handle losing revenue from Sprint: "The impact could be most broadly felt by SBA Communications" -- SBAC, down 7.6% Friday but up 0.2% today -- "due to its higher relative exposure to Sprint, with Crown Castle a close second. We expect American Tower to be affected much less because of its lower relative exposure to Sprint and because the company has made significant investments in international markets."
    • Previously: Sprint -9.9% as it plans 'radical' network overhaul; tower firms dip (Jan. 15 2016)
    | Tue, Jan. 19, 11:02 AM | 11 Comments
  • Fri, Jan. 15, 5:32 PM
    • Sprint (S -9.9%) has a "radical" plan to overhaul its cell network that could save up to $1B -- but might result in hiccups along the way.
    • The carrier plans to relocate radio equipment from towers leased from private companies, namely Crown Castle (CCI -5.8%) and American Tower (AMT -4.2%), onto cheaper properties owned by the government, Re/code reports.
    • It's also hoping to reduce its dependency on backhaul from AT&T (T -0.9%) and Verizon (VZ -1%) by using microwave technology a la Clearwire instead. The company cuts annual checks of $1B for backhaul to the two rivals.
    • One source says the company's "Next Generation Network" will result in a new wave of disruptions and could end up with less coverage in regions where Sprint has few subscribers: “Getting there is going to be a nightmare ... It’s going to be very, very disruptive.”
    • Sprint will lease towers from privately held Mobilitie, which will locate where possible on government-owned ROW.
    • “Sprint’s plan is not for the faint of heart,” Wells Fargo's Jennifer Fritzsche writes in a note. “Sprint needs to be solely focused on avoiding mistakes of the past, where network overhauls caused major disruptions in the network’s performance.”
    | Fri, Jan. 15, 5:32 PM | 107 Comments
  • Aug. 6, 2015, 3:39 PM
    • American Tower (NYSE:AMT) is up 1.3% after Morgan Stanley, taking a fresh look at telecom towers firms, upgraded the stock to Overweight, from Equal Weight.
    • Analyst Simon Flannery set a price target on the shares at $116, up from $101. The stock closed yesterday at $96.68 and is trading today at $97.85. That comes to an 18.5% upside from current prices.
    • It's been a slow year for towers firms, he writes, but he likes the group going into 2016, with telecoms expected to re-accelerate spending.
    • He holds an existing Overweight rating on SBA Communications (NASDAQ:SBAC) with its price target raised to $151 from $130 (shares are up 0.2% today to $120.97, implying near 25% upside) and an Overweight on Crown Castle International (NYSE:CCI) with a price target of $94 (shares are down 0.4% today to $81.91, implying near 15% upside).
    | Aug. 6, 2015, 3:39 PM | 3 Comments
  • Jul. 21, 2015, 10:32 AM
    • Crown Castle International (NYSE:CCI) is down 1% after Evercore downgraded shares to Hold.
    • The consensus rating of covering analysts on CCI is Hold. Last month, however, BTIG launched coverage at Buy with a $95 price target.
    • Consensus price target of nearly $92 implies a 12% upside from current prices.
    • The company is releasing earnings after the market close tomorrow, with a conference call to follow on Thursday morning at 10:30 a.m. ET.
    • CCI shares are down 5.7% over the past three months, but are up 3.1% YTD.
    | Jul. 21, 2015, 10:32 AM | 1 Comment
  • Dec. 2, 2014, 10:53 AM
    • Raymond James has downgraded American Tower (AMT -2.5%) to Outperform from Strong Buy, and Crown Castle (CCI -2.3%) to Market Perform from Outperform. Peer SBA (SBAC -2.2%) is off in sympathy.
    • AMT and SBAC have rallied strongly this year; CCI has seen more moderate gains.
    • A month ago: Goldman, Macquarie downgrade AMT; CCI receives upgrade and downgrades
    | Dec. 2, 2014, 10:53 AM
  • Oct. 31, 2014, 6:17 PM
    • Morgan Stanley's Simon Flannery: "Crown Castle (CCI -6.2%) now offers a ~4% dividend yield, based on [Thursday's] closing price, compared to the REITs, which yield between 3.3% and 3.9%. We continue to see upside, as the stock attracts income oriented investors."
    • Though it just more than doubled its payout following pressure from activist Corvex Management, Crown Castle still expects to grow its dividend at a rate on par with its AFFO growth; the tower owner is aiming for 6%-7% growth on an organic basis.
    • Shares sold off due to disappointment with CCI's 2015 outlook: The company expects AFFO/share of $4.31-$4.37, below a $4.75 consensus. Site rental revenue is expected to rise to $3.047B-$3.067B from a 2014 level of $3.001B-$3.006B.
    | Oct. 31, 2014, 6:17 PM | 1 Comment
  • Oct. 30, 2014, 1:39 PM
    • Though it missed Q3 EPS estimates (while beating on revenue), American Tower (NYSE:AMT) is hiking its full-year AFFO guidance to $1.8B-$1.82B from $1.755B-$1.795B.
    • Also, AMT now respectively forecasts U.S. and international organic core revenue growth of 9.5% and 16%; prior guidance was for 9%+ and "nearly 15%" growth.
    • Rental/management revenue guidance has been narrowed to $3.975B-$4.005B from $3.945B-$4.015B, and net income guidance lowered to $805M-$825M from $830M-$850M.
    • Q3 AFFO rose 25.2% Y/Y to $460M ($1.15/share, well above EPS of $0.50).
    • U.S. rental/management revenue +25.2% to $664M (+9.1% organic); international revenue +30.3% to $348M (+17.7% organic). Network development services revenue more than doubled to $27.1M.
    • Rental/management op. margin slipped to 67% from 69% a year ago. AMT ended Q3 with $13.6B in net debt, and a 5.1x net leverage ratio.
    • SBA (SBAC +1.4%) and Crown Castle (CCI +0.8%) are up moderately.
    • Q3 results, PR
    | Oct. 30, 2014, 1:39 PM
  • Oct. 14, 2014, 9:23 AM
    • Activist investor Corvex Management has disclosed a $1B (nearly 4%) stake in Crown Castle (NYSE:CCI), and is calling on the tower owner to either start paying over $4/share in quarterly dividends next year (Option #1), or over $1.60/share in dividends combined with ongoing buybacks (Option #2).
    • The first option would require a steep 80%+ payout ratio, but maintain CCI's net debt/EBITDA ratio around 4.5x (potentially ~6x with M&A). The second would involve only a 30% payout ratio, but boost net debt/EBITDA to ~7x (~7.5x with M&A).
    • Corvex argues "changing Crown Castle's capital allocation strategy would enable the company to attract a new class of yield-oriented investors," and that the company's plan to delay a full payout structure until the expiration of net operating losses in 2018-2020 is inadequate.
    • As for speculation Crown Castle could bid for Verizon's tower portfolio, Corvex thinks CCI should change its capital allocation plan before making any offer. "We do not believe that the company should complete a Verizon transaction by increasing leverage and then de-levering again with no material change to its payout ratio."
    • CCI's dividend yield is currently at 1.7%. The company reiterates it will discuss its capital allocation plans during its Oct. 20 Q3 CC.
    | Oct. 14, 2014, 9:23 AM
  • Sep. 2, 2014, 4:21 PM
    • The IRS has ruled "the real property portion of Crown Castle's indoor and outdoor small cell networks and the related rents qualify as real property and rents from real property, respectively," under the rules governing REITs.
    • CCI already began operating as a REIT at the beginning of the year. With the IRS letter in tow, the company plans to "take appropriate action to include the qualifying portion of its small cell systems as part of the REIT effective January 1, 2015." Certain "non-qualified assets" will remain held in taxable REIT subsidiaries.
    • Shares +1.2% AH.
    | Sep. 2, 2014, 4:21 PM
  • Jul. 28, 2014, 4:02 PM
    • 6 firms have hiked their SBA (SBAC +3.3%) targets following the tower owner's Thursday Q2 beat. 3 of them - Barclays, Pac Crest, and JPMorgan - have lifted their PTs to $125.
    • In addition to beating estimates, SBA raised its full-year AFFO guidance to $642M-$669M from a prior $616M-$652M. Revenue guidance has been hiked to $1.5B-$1.52B from $1.447B-$1.487B, and tower cash flow guidance to $1.021B-$1.031B from $989M-$1.009B. The outlook assumes the Oi tower acquisition will close on Dec. 1.
    • Peer Crown Castle (CCI +2.4%) has also rallied. The company missed AFFO estimates last Wednesday (while beating on revenue), but also raised its full-year AFFO/share guidance to $4.13-$4.18 from $4.04-$4.08. Site rental revenue guidance was slightly raised to $2.99B-$3B from $2.983B-$2.993B.
    | Jul. 28, 2014, 4:02 PM
  • Apr. 23, 2014, 5:47 PM
    • TriQuint (TQNT) expects Q2 revenue of $215M-$225M and EPS of $0.06-$0.08, above a consensus of $200.3M and $0.04. Shares +6.5% AH. Merger partner RF Micro (RFMD), which reports on April 29, is up 3.1%. Both companies might also be getting a lift from Apple's March quarter iPhone sales print. (Q1 results, PR)
    • Fortinet (FTNT) guides in its earnings slides (.pdf) for Q2 revenue of $169M-$172M (above a $168.9M consensus), EPS of $0.10 (below an $0.11 consensus), and billings of $185M-$190M (+17% Y/Y). Q1 billings totaled $188M, +26% Y/Y and well above guidance of $168M-$173M. Shares +4.4% AH. (Q1 results, PR)
    • Crown Castle (CCI) has raised its full-year AFFO forecast to $1.346B-$1.361B ($4.04-$4.08/share) from a prior $1.318B-$1.333B. Site rental revenue guidance has been raised by $11M to $2.983B-$2.993B. (Q1 results, PR)
    | Apr. 23, 2014, 5:47 PM
  • Oct. 21, 2013, 12:46 PM
    • Crown Castle (CCI -0.9%) is trading lower following its $4.85B deal to buy and acquire leasing rights to 9.7K AT&T towers, which includes the right to eventually purchase the leased towers for $4.2B. The decline comes even though Crown Castle posted solid Q3 results and issued decent Q4/2014 guidance.
    • Nomura sees the deal being modestly accretive, and doesn't like the equity dilution and higher operating leverage that comes with it. Crown Castle is issuing 36M shares of common stock, and 7.5M shares of convertible preferred stock.
    • Though Q3 EPS missed by a penny, Crown Castle's AFFO came in at $1.09/share, above a guidance range of $1.02-$1.04/share and up from $0.79/share a year ago. Q4 AFFO is expected to total $1.09-$1.11/share. Crown Castle expects Q4 site rental revenue of $625M-$630M, up from Q3's $621M (+15% Y/Y).
    • The company expects 2014 AFFO of $1.546B-$1.561B, up from an expected $1.23B-$1.235B in 2013. The AT&T deal, which increases Crown Castle's tower count by 33% to 40K+, is expected to provide a $245M-$255M boost to 2014 AFFO, exc. financing costs.
    | Oct. 21, 2013, 12:46 PM
  • Sep. 6, 2013, 10:15 AM
    • SBA (SBAC +2.1%) and Crown Castle (CCI +3.2%) have joined American Tower (AMT +4.4%) in rallying following news AMT is acquiring giant private cell tower owner Global Tower Partners for $4.8B ($3.3B in cash + the assumption of $1.5B in debt).
    • The WSJ reported a month ago Global Tower, controlled by a REIT managed by Macquarie, was being shopped. The company owns 5.4K U.S. towers and 500 Costa Rican sites, and also has management rights to 9K+ U.S. sites (mostly rooftop assets) and property interests in another 800.
    • The deal is expected to close in Q4, and will increase the size of AMT's debt load to $10.3B (offset by just $1B in cash/investments). The announcement comes a month after AMT announced an $811M Mexican/Brazilian tower purchase/lease-back deal with NII Holdings (NIHD +1.4%), and 10 months after it reached a deal to buy 2K German cell sites from KPN for $502M. NII has additional tower assets that could be on the block.
    • In July, Muddy Waters criticized the accounting behind an earlier Brazilian tower purchase by AMT. The company strongly refuted Muddy Waters' claims.
    | Sep. 6, 2013, 10:15 AM
  • Jul. 17, 2013, 10:35 AM
    Muddy Waters releases its rumored report on American Tower (AMT -2.4%), declaring the cell tower owner a Strong Sell and setting a $44.57 PT. The firm accuses AMT of overstating the price it paid for 666 Brazilian towers by $250M (citing sources and financial documents), makes note of insider selling and perceived corporate governance issues, and deems the rise of carrier Wi-Fi and small cell networks a threat to tower growth. Also, AMT's international ops are accused of overvaluing assets, and of overpaying for towers in exchange for excess rent payments (an arrangement deemed a de facto loan). CCI -1.4%. SBAC -0.8%. (slides - .ppt)
    | Jul. 17, 2013, 10:35 AM | 5 Comments
Company Description
Crown Castle International Corp owns, operates and leases shared wireless infrastructure, including towers and other structures, such as rooftops, and other communication structures.