Mobile communications are fueling the strongest growth trends on today's market, from high-speed networking to top-shelf smartphones. But none of these would matter if nobody was building and operating those now-ubiquitous cell towers.
That's where American Tower (NYSE: AMT ) comes in. The Rule Breakers pick just reported $0.21 of GAAP earnings per share on $548 million in revenue, roughly in line with the Street's bottom-line expectations but ahead of the guessing game in terms of sales.
The domestic market represented 77% of revenue in the fourth quarter, but the international segment is growing by leaps and bounds, increasing its importance to the overall business quarter by quarter.
The company serves all four of the major American mobile networks alongside a few smaller ones, including Cincinnati Bell (NYSE: CBB ) and USA Mobility (Nasdaq: USMO ) . But thanks to an aggressive program of buying and building tower networks in places such as Chile, Mexico, South Africa, and India, global customers such as Vodafone (Nasdaq: VOD ) and America Movil (NYSE: AMX ) are becoming increasingly vital to American Tower's revenue mix.
The company doesn't currently pay a dividend, but it is giving serious thought to becoming a real estate investment trust for tax purposes and will thus start paying a significant dividend in order to qualify for that status. American Tower is a veritable cash machine that generates nearly three times as much free cash flow as net profits, even after spending seemingly exorbitant amounts on updating its massive network of cell towers. That makes for stable, sustainable dividends, so a decision to become a REIT would make American Tower an instant hit with the income-seeking investor community.
In short, this stock gives you a way to ride global expansion of mobile networks without getting into the nitty-gritty of picking a particular network operator -- and it could soon become a generous dividend payer to boot. What's not to love?
Learn more about American Tower and its business by adding the stock to your watchlist.