"Consumer adoption of increasingly advanced mobile devices and services...continues unabated in both the U.S. and in our other served markets," according to American Tower (NYSE:AMT) CEO Jim Taiclet. He made those comments in the company's third-quarter earnings press release after his company announced strong operating results. That unstoppable mobile growth pushed American Tower's revenue and cash flow higher giving the company the confidence to raise its full-year outlook.
A look at the numbers that matter
While third-quarter earnings per share of $0.50 came in $0.07 per share lighter than Wall Street was expecting revenue of $1.038 billion did beat expectations by $10 million. In fact, revenue was up 28.5% over the third-quarter of last year. Also surging was adjusted funds from operation, or AFFO, which is a key metric for a real estate investment trust like American Tower. In the third quarter AFFO was up 25.2% to $460 million.
One of the key drivers of these strong results was the combined 12% organic core growth in the company's portfolio. This helped push rental and management revenue up to $348 million at its international tower segment while pushing domestic revenue up to $664 million. These results were up 30.3% and 25.2%, respectively, over the prior year's third quarter.
One quote investors can't miss
Taiclet had a lot of positive things to say about the company's future in its earnings press release but none were more compelling than the following quote about its outlook for future growth. Taiclet said:
In our latest analysis of the individual factors that correlate to American Tower's U.S. organic growth rates, the increase in the amount of total mobile data traffic emerged as the number one driver. This, coupled with forecasts that U.S. mobile data usage is expected to double every two years through at least 2018, gives us confidence in the strength of our long-term domestic growth trajectory. Moreover, since nearly all of our international assets are in markets that are three to ten years behind the U.S. in the deployment of mobile broadband services, we continue to believe that these markets will further enhance and lengthen our overall long-term growth trajectory.
Clearly, the company doesn't see its growth slowing anytime soon.
A look at outlook
In fact, as a result of the company's strong third-quarter results, as well as its continued bullish outlook, American Tower raised its full-year outlook. The company boosted its total rental and management revenue outlook by $10 million while boosting AFFO by an even stronger $35 million. These estimates exclude the company's pending acquisition of BR Towers, which is expected to close before the end of the year. So, results could end up being even better than its higher guidance would indicate.
American Tower doesn't see anything stopping mobile demand growth, which suggests that demand for its towers will remain robust. This should continue to yield strong revenue and cash flow growth as the company not only adds more towers to its portfolio, but more importantly adds more tenants per tower. With nearly 70,000 communication sites around the world, and ample liquidity to expand that portfolio, American Tower is showing no signs of slowing.