In 2007, American Tower set a goal of quadrupling both the size of our communications site portfolio and its financial performance over a ten-year timeline. Based on its 2017 results, the tower company achieve that goal, and then some. It has 150,000 sites versus a goal of 100,000 sites, and $6.72 per share of consolidated AFFO versus a goal of $6.00 per share.
“Moreover, in 2017, we delivered growth of nearly 16 percent in consolidated AFFO per share, expanded our return on invested capital, increased our common stock dividend by more than 20 percent, and repurchased approximately $770 million in stock,” Jim Taiclet, American Tower’s CEO, said during the company’s fourth quarter 2017 earnings call.
American’s guidance for 2018 included organic tenant billings growth of more than in the United States, driven by unlimited data plans, increasing mobile video consumption, announced spectrum build-outs in the 2.5 GHz and 600 MHz bands and the planned FirstNet deployment.
“We also expect consistent demand for tower space in Latin America, notably in Mexico and Brazil, as well as robust activity in our key markets in the EMEA region,” Taiclet said. “Finally, we have incorporated into our 2018 outlook the expected impacts of the ongoing carrier consolidation process in India. We continue to have a high level of confidence that once the consolidation activity concludes, the Indian mobile industry will be positioned for major network investments to bring 4G service to the country’s 1.3 billion people, providing strong growth opportunities for our extensive portfolio in India.”
Nick Del Deo, analyst with MoffettNathanson, expressed skepticism about the Indian tower market.
“Over the past year, American Tower has maintained a stiff upper lip, focusing on the long-term benefits of getting over this hump while ratcheting up expectations for the pain that is to come,” he wrote. “From here, there are really two pertinent questions as it relates to India. First, how do expectations compare to the guidance American Tower has laid out?”