Cell Phone Tower Companies Become Vertical REITs: Are These Strategic Investments?

Wall Street Transcript

67 WALL STREET, New York - September 12, 2013 - The Wall Street Transcript has recently published its Wireless Communications & Telecom Report offering a timely review of the sector to serious investors and industry executives. The full issue is available by calling (212) 952-7433 or via The Wall Street Transcript Online.

Topics covered: Tower Cell Splitting - Global Wireless Spectrum Allocation - 4G LTE and 3G Infrastructure Upgrades

Companies include: American Tower Corp. (AMT), Crown Castle International Cor (CCI), SBA Communications Corp. (SBAC), AT&T, Inc. (T), Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ), Sprint Nextel Corp. (S), Dish Network Corp. (DISH) and many others.

In the following excerpt from the Wireless Communications & Telecom Report, an expert analyst discusses the outlook for the sector for investors:

TWST: I saw that American Tower is now a REIT. In many ways these companies are real estate companies, but why specifically did American Tower make that change?

Mr. Lowe: I agree, these companies are fundamentally real estate businesses, so location matters. It is vertical real estate. If I were to build a tower in the middle of a cornfield where there are no subscribers within a 10-mile radius, none of the carriers are going to have any desire to be located on that tower. So location is going to matter, and the physical location of the tower is going to drive a lot of the decision-making.

I think the primary reason for AMT's conversion, and why Crown Castle will look to convert when their NOL position is exhausted in the 2015-2016 time frame, is because it is the most tax-efficient structure. As a REIT you avoid paying federal income tax in the U.S. The offset is you are required to pay out at least 90% of your taxable income and return that to shareholders, but that trade-off is a positive one in terms of being able to avoid a lot of the tax liability associated with being a C-Corp in a tax-paying position.

Said in another way, AMT looked to convert when they were getting close to a point where their net operating losses were exhausted...

For more of this interview and many others visit the Wall Street Transcript - a unique service for investors and industry researchers - providing fresh commentary and insight through verbatim interviews with CEOs, portfolio managers and research analysts. This special issue is available by calling (212) 952-7433 or via The Wall Street Transcript Online.

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