Crown Castle (NYSE:CCI) is the second-largest real estate investment trust in the market, but don't make the mistake of thinking that means it can't keep getting bigger. In this Fool Live clip, recorded on Oct. 25, Fool.com contributors Jason Hall and Matt Frankel talk about why this infrastructure REIT giant could be worth a look right now.
Matt Frankel: This is Crown Castle, ticker symbol CCI. So go ahead Jason.
Jason Hall: It's interesting. We don't really have to spend a ton of time talking about it, and then a lot of ways there's a chart, this chart from their investor presentation hits it pretty well. This is largely a 5G story right now. You think about a lot of companies that are 5G stocks immediately like AT&T (NYSE:T), and Verizon (NYSE:VZ), and all the T-Mobile (NASDAQ:TMUS). Those companies come to mind, but guess what? 5G is a cost of doing business for those companies. They have to do it, they have to invest massive sums of money simply to be relevant.
There's opportunity for growth, for business. Machine-to-machine becomes a bigger thing, but you know who makes money here? Crown Castle. Crown Castle has 40,000 cell towers. It has around 80,000 small cells, they're either operating or they're under agreements to operate and those small cells are largely 5G cells because with 5G you need more proximity to the tower for it to work. Also, operates around 80,000 miles of fiber, so you think about getting the data from the cell tower to the data center, to the end-user, to do a website.
Somebody's back-end data network that they're using. It's really, really powerful. Now, this is a real estate investment trust. You go back and you see again it's another dividend growth story because with real estate investment trusts, they're required to pay out 90% of their net income in dividends. As net income grows, the idea is that total returns increased by raising the dividend. This is something Crown Castle has certainly been able to do. Matt.
Frankel: Yes. One of the big questions I always get whenever I bring up Crown Castle is, there are two companies that do this, there's Crown Castle and American Tower (NYSE:AMT). Those are very comparable in size, and everyone always asks what the biggest difference is. It's worth pointing out that Crown Castle is a completely domestic play. They're only embedded in the U.S.
Hall: They're misnamed. They should trade names.
Frankel: Despite its name, American Tower is a very international company.
Frankel: That's a big difference between the two. Crown, they do have a huge opportunity and it's going to be a very long-tailed opportunity. In five years or whatever, however long it is where it takes to really build out the 5G capabilities in the US, then 6G is going to come along and then so and so on. This company is not going to be without things to do in other words, so don't think that they're going to use up their 5G growth potential in a few years and then what do we do now? They do the small cell networks, LCD, fiber, broadband communications, which is another growth area that's really big right now. I like the stock all around. I like it and it's a solid dividend yield too.
Hall: Yes, I think we feel like the market is giving investors a little bit of an opportunity here recently.