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American Tower Delivered Solid Growth in Q2

Matthew DiLallo, The Motley Fool

American Tower (NYSE: AMT) continues to benefit from fast-growing data demand. That enabled the communications tower REIT to add more tenants to its towers during the second quarter, which helped boost its results. That solid showing, as well as its growing optimism for the second half of the year, led the company to increase its full-year outlook.

American Tower results: The raw numbers

Metric Q2 2019 Q2 2018 Change

Revenue

$1.89 billion

$1.78 billion

6.1%

Adjusted funds from operations

$909.6 million

$844.0 million

7.8%

AFFO/share

$2.04

$1.90

7.4%

Data source: American Tower.

What happened with American Tower this quarter? 

Healthy organic growth in most regions helped offset some weakness in India.

  • The company's U.S. segment tallied slightly more than $1 billion in revenue during the quarter, up 5.3% from last year's second quarter. American Tower benefited from 7.5% organic tenant billings growth as it continued adding more tenants to its existing towers.
  • Latin America contributed $346 million in revenue, up 8.7% year over year, driven in part by 7.3% organic tenant billings growth. The company also benefited from last year's acquisition of fiber assets in Brazil.
  • Revenue from Asia grew 4.3% to $321 million as acquisitions more than offset a 23.8% decline in organic tenant billings due to a settlement with India's Tata Group.
  • Revenue in the company's Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) segment increased 5% year over year to $175 million thanks to a 7.2% increase in organic tenant billings and the acquisition of some towers in Kenya.
  • American Towers continues to be an active acquirer. The company spent $43 million during the quarter to purchase 256 communication sites in various international markets. It also will buy out Tata's interests in a tower company, which will increase its stake in that entity up to 92%. Meanwhile, the company agreed to buy Eaton Towers for $1.85 billion. Eaton owns 5,500 sites across five African markets. Finally, it signed a deal to acquire 400 sites in the U.S. for about $500 million.
A cell tower with the sun setting in the background.

Image source: Getty Images.

What management had to say

CEO Jim Taiclet commented the company's results by stating that: "We had another strong quarter in Q2 2019, highlighted by 7.5% Organic Tenant Billings Growth in the U.S. and sustained momentum across our international operations. U.S. consumer demand for mobile data continues to expand more than 30% per year, with broadly similar usage growth rates in our overseas markets fueling ongoing demand for tower space."

American Tower continues to execute on its two-pronged growth strategy. First, the company is organically expanding revenue by adding new tenants to its legacy portfolio of towers. That's helping boost investment returns since it doesn't cost very much to add more communications equipment to an existing location. The company also continues to acquire new tower sites around the world, which provides it with future organic growth opportunities as it adds more tenants to those locations.

Looking forward 

Taiclet pointed out that the success of its strategy and execution this year led it to raise its full-year forecast:

Metric Updated Guidance Midpoint Growth vs. 2017 Prior Guidance Midpoint Growth vs. 2017

Total property revenue

$7.21 billion to $7.34 billion

(0.6%)

$7.14 billion to $7.29 billion

(1.4%)

Adjusted EBITDA

$4.49 billion to $4.57 billion

(2.9%)

$4.42 billion to $4.52 billion

(4.2%)

Consolidated AFFO

$3.46 billion to $3.53 billion

(1.2%)

$3.38 billion to $3.48 billion

(3.2%)

Data source: American Tower.

While the company still expects its financial results to decline this year, that's entirely due to the impact of the Tata settlement, which is negatively impacting comparable results. American Tower's forecast also doesn't include the Eaton acquisition, which it won't close until the end of the year.

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Matthew DiLallo owns shares of American Tower. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends American Tower. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.