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Why Is Crown Castle (CCI) Up 0.7% Since Last Earnings Report?

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It has been about a month since the last earnings report for Crown Castle (CCI). Shares have added about 0.7% in that time frame, outperforming the S&P 500.

Will the recent positive trend continue leading up to its next earnings release, or is Crown Castle due for a pullback? Before we dive into how investors and analysts have reacted as of late, let's take a quick look at the most recent earnings report in order to get a better handle on the important catalysts.

Crown Castle Q1 FFO Beats, View Up on Leasing Activity

Crown Castle's first-quarter 2021 AFFO per share of $1.71 surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.61. Moreover, the figure was 20% higher than the prior-year quarter’s $1.42.

Net revenues of $1.49 billion improved 4.5% year over year in the reported quarter. However, the figure missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 1.50 billion.

Growth in site-rental revenues aided the top-line performance. The company also enhanced its outlook for 2021, backed by additional straight-lined revenues to be generated from the long-term tower leasing agreement with wireless carrier Verizon. The lease became effective on Apr 1 and resulted in an increase in the average contracted lease term for Verizon’s existing tower site leases to nearly 10 years.

Per management, “In the first quarter, we delivered solid results that exceeded our expectations and reflect a robust 5G leasing environment, positioning us to generate an expected double-digit growth in both AFFO per share and dividends per share for full year 2021."

Quarter in Detai

Site-rental revenues were $1.4 billion, up 5% year over year. The organic contribution of $82 million to site rental revenues reflects 6.3% year-over-year growth. Further, services and other revenues rose 4.5% year over year to $116 million.

Quarterly operating expenses decreased 1.9% year over year to $1.03 billion. Nonetheless, operating income rose 23.1% year over year to $448 million. Quarterly adjusted EBITDA of $897 million marked a 10% year-over-year rise.

The company reported a capital expenditure of $302 million for the first quarter. This included $285 million of discretionary capital expenditure and $17 million of sustaining capital expenditure.

Balance Sheet

Crown Castle exited first-quarter 2021 with cash and cash equivalents of $254 million, up from $232 million reported at the end of 2020.

Furthermore, for the three months ended Dec 31, 2021, the company generated $584 million of net cash from operating activities compared with $653 million reported in the year-ago period.

Also, debt and other long-term obligations aggregated $19.7 billion, up from $19.1 billion witnessed at the end of 2020.

Guidance

The company has increased its outlook for 2021. It expects site-rental revenues of 5,672-$5,717 million, indicating 7% year-over-year growth at the mid-point. This includes 6% growth in the organic contribution, consisting of 6%, 15% and 3% growth from towers, small cells and fiber solutions, respectively.

Adjusted EBITDA is projected at $3,734-$3,779 million, indicating 10% year-over-year growth at the mid-point. AFFO per share is anticipated to be $6.74-$6.85, indicating 11% year-over-year growth at the mid-point.

How Have Estimates Been Moving Since Then?

It turns out, estimates revision have trended upward during the past month.

VGM Scores

At this time, Crown Castle has an average Growth Score of C, though it is lagging a bit on the Momentum Score front with a D. Charting a somewhat similar path, the stock was allocated a grade of C on the value side, putting it in the middle 20% for this investment strategy.

Overall, the stock has an aggregate VGM Score of C. If you aren't focused on one strategy, this score is the one you should be interested in.

Outlook

Estimates have been broadly trending upward for the stock, and the magnitude of these revisions has been net zero. Notably, Crown Castle has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). We expect an in-line return from the stock in the next few months.


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