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Equinix Caps Off a Year of Expansion With a Solid Quarter

By Beth McKenna - Feb 15, 2018 at 8:02AM

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The largest global operator of data centers posted double-digit revenue and AFFO growth in the fourth quarter.

Equinix (EQIX 1.74%) reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2017 results after the market close on Wednesday.

Shares traded down 3.9% in after-hours trading on Wednesday. The stock has returned 10.4% over the one-year period through Wednesday, versus the S&P 500's 18.2% return, but remains a winner over longer time periods.

Here's how the quarter worked out for the data center operator and global interconnection specialist that's organized as a real estate investment trust (REIT).

Equinix's results: The raw numbers

Metric

Q4 2017

Q4 2016

Year-Over-Year Change

Revenue

$1,200 million

$942.6 million  

27%

Operating income

$232.0 million

$184.5 million

26% 

Net income

$65.2 million

$61.8 million

6%

Earnings per share (EPS)

$0.82

$0.86

(5%)

Adjusted funds from operations (AFFO)*

$381.5 million

$293.8 million

30% 

AFFO per share

$4.82

$4.08

18% 

Data source: Equinix. *AFFO is a closely watched metric for companies organized as REITs, as it's a driver of payouts to shareholders; it's akin to "earnings" for REITs. 

Wall Street was looking for AFFO per share of $4.80 on revenue of $1.19 billion, so Equinix slightly beat both expectations.

For full-year 2017, year-over-year revenue increased 22% -- 11% on a normalized and constant currency basis -- to $4,368 million, and AFFO per share grew 22% to 18.5. Revenue slightly exceeded the higher end of the updated guidance range that Equinix provided last quarter ($4,355 million to $4,363 million).   

Interior of a blue-lighted data center showing servers along both sides and at the end of an aisle.

Image source: Getty Images.

What happened with Equinix in the quarter?

  • Recurring revenue, consisting primarily of colocation, interconnection, and managed services, rose 26% year over year to $1,123 million. Nonrecurring revenue jumped 55% to $77.6 million.
  • The enterprise vertical's revenue grew twice as fast as revenue generated from any other vertical. Equinix's customers include 46% of the Fortune 500 and one-third of the Forbes Global 2000 companies.
  • Equinix increased its global reach via two acquisitions, one in Q4 2017 and the other in early Q1 2018. In December, the company announced a $791 million agreement to acquire Australian data center provider Metronode, which will add 10 data centers and four new metro regions to existing Equinix operations in the country. Along with the earnings release on Wednesday, the company announced the $800 million acquisition of Infomart Dallas, which it touts is one of the most connected facilities in the United States. 
  • The company also continues to expand its reach through organic expansion, with 30 projects now underway, half of which are in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region. On Wednesday, new expansions were announced for the Culpeper, Virginia; Houston; Washington, D.C; Silicon Valley; London; Paris; Sao Paulo; and Sofia, Burgaria regions totaling more than $500 million of capital expenditures.
  • Equinix revealed the expansion of Equinix Internet Exchange to nine new metros in the EMEA and Americas regions.
  • It disclosed the future introduction of services intended to enable customers to rapidly scale their digital businesses. As part of this initiative, Equinix is physically and virtually connecting its global data centers, enabling customers to discover and connect to any other Equinix customer. Services are delivered through Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric. 

Here's what Peter Van Camp, executive chairman and interim CEO, had to say:  

In addition to strong financial performance, Equinix achieved a number of significant milestones around interconnection, innovation and acquisitions in 2017 that add even more value to our role as a strategic partner to companies in the execution of their digital business strategies. As we approach our 20th anniversary and reflect on what we've built, we believe our platform will become even more important for our customers in the years to come. We have a clear vision of our strategy and the opportunities ahead, and we are looking forward to another successful year.

Van Camp was Equinix's CEO from 2000 to 2007. Equinix is actively seeking a new leader, as former CEO Steve Smith resigned from his position, along with his seat on the board of directors, in late January after "exercising poor judgment with respect to an employee matter," according to Equinix. 

Looking ahead

Equinix provided first-quarter and full-year 2018 guidance. Guidance excludes the anticipated contributions from the Metronode and Infomart Dallas acquisitions. For the first quarter, it expects revenue in the range of $1,204 million to $1,212 million, which at the midpoint represents an increase of 27.2% over the year-ago quarter. Equinix does not issue quarterly AFFO guidance.

Guidance for the year is as follows:

Metric

2018 Guidance

Year-Over-Year Change

Revenue

Exceed $5,010 million

15% (10% on a normalized and constant currency basis); excludes the Verizon data center acquisition, which closed in Q2 2017

AFFO

Exceed $1,635 million

14%

Data source: Equinix.

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