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Mobile Growth Continues to Push American Tower Corp's Earnings Higher

By Matthew DiLallo - Apr 29, 2016 at 4:15PM

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Telecom tower REIT is boosting its guidance a little bit to reflect its most recent acquisition.

Image source: American Tower.

American Tower (AMT 2.10%) continues to both grow its global tower footprint and organically add new tenants to its existing tower portfolio. That's proving to be a powerful combination, enabling the company to deliver solid double-digit growth in revenue and adjusted funds from operations again this quarter. Given the current trends in mobile data growth, the company expects to continue its double-digit growth pace for the foreseeable future. 

American Tower results: The raw numbers


Q1 2016 Actuals

Q1 2015 Actuals

Growth (YOY)


$1.3 billion

$1.1 billion


Adjusted Funds from Operations

$602.5 million

$513.6 million






Data source: American Tower.

What happened with American Tower this quarter? 
American Tower connected on another solid quarter.

  • American Tower's U.S. property segment was a solid performer, with revenue up 13% to $718 million due primarily to the company's Verizon (VZ 0.28%) tower transaction.
  • Looking overseas, Latin America, which is the company's second largest market by revenue, was strong after revenue increased by 24.8% to $211 million. Driving that growth was the TIM Cellular transaction in Brazil.
  • Meanwhile, growth in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) was also solid, with revenue jumping 17% to $76 million. That segment is expected to get another boost starting next quarter, after the company reached an agreement to acquire 1,350 towers in Tanzania for $179 million from Bharti Airtel.
  • Finally, revenue in Asia increased by 20% to $57 million. However, the company expects Asia to be an even bigger revenue driver in 2016 after recently closing its transaction to acquire a 51% controlling interest in Viom Networks Limited, which operates 42,000 sites in India.

What management had to say 
In commenting on the quarter, CEO Jim Taiclet said:

The global proliferation of smartphones is driving significant growth in subscriber demand for higher bandwidth applications. As a result, during the first quarter, we continued to experience solid leasing demand across our served markets as mobile operators invest in their networks to manage key performance factors, including coverage, capacity and peak network speed.

As Taiclet noted, American Tower continues to benefit from strong demand for additional space on its towers, which is driving organic growth. During the first quarter, the company delivered 8.7% organic core growth, which is revenue growth from towers added prior to the first quarter of 2015. That's a key number for the company because it means its legacy towers are becoming all the more profitable, which is boosting its returns and cash flow with little incremental investment needed on its part.

Looking forward 
That said, acquisitions continue to be the big near-term driver, with the company expecting new property growth of 14% this year against 7% organic core growth, which will combine to drive 21% total core growth for the company. In fact, as a result of the recent closing of the Viom deal, as well as recent changes in the foreign exchange market, the company is now boosting its full-year guidance. It sees revenue, adjusted EBITDA, and AFFO higher by $40 million, $25 million, and $20 million, respectively, from the midpoint of its prior guidance, with favorable currency swings offsetting a delay in the closing of the Viom deal.

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