REITs often attract a great deal of investors because of their strong cash flows and dividends, and those investors often overlook other parts of the business, choosing to analyze the company under a different set of criteria than companies in other sectors. This can create a problem in that it becomes difficult to compare a REIT to an industrial, which is fine if you use the typical top-down approach to stock selection; however, a top-down approach invites speculation in the fact that you are theorizing which sector will perform well going forward. Benjamin Graham taught that we should avoid speculation as much as possible, which is why it is critical to develop a system for analyzing companies that will allow them to be compared across industries. This is best done by utilizing a systematic approach to analysis that will provide investors with a sense of how a specific company compares to another investment opportunity. By using the ModernGraham method one can review a company’s historical accomplishments and determine an intrinsic value that can be compared across industries. What follows is a specific look at how American Tower Corporation (AMT) fares in the ModernGraham valuation model.
Company Profile (obtained from Google Finance): American Tower Corporation is a holding company. The Company conducts its operations through its directly and indirectly owned subsidiaries and joint ventures. It is a wireless and broadcast communications infrastructure company that owns, operates and develops communications sites. Its primary business includes leasing antenna space on multi-tenant communications sites to wireless service providers, radio and television broadcast companies, wireless data providers, government agencies and municipalities and tenants in a number of other industries. This business is its rental and management operations, which accounted for approximately 98% of its total revenues during the year ended December 31, 2011. In January 2012, the Company merged with and into American Tower REIT, Inc. In October 2013, the Company acquired MIP Tower Holdings LLC. In November2013, NII Holdings, Inc sold 1,483 communications sites in Mexico to American Tower Corporation.
Defensive Investor – must pass at least 6 of the following 7 tests: Score = 1/7
- Adequate Size of Enterprise – market capitalization of at least $2 billion – PASS
- Sufficiently Strong Financial Condition – current ratio greater than 2 – FAIL
- Earnings Stability – positive earnings per share for at least 10 straight years – FAIL
- Dividend Record – has paid a dividend for at least 10 straight years – FAIL
- Earnings Growth – earnings per share has increased by at least 1/3 over the last 10 years using 3 year averages at beginning and end of period – FAIL
- Moderate PEmg ratio – PEmg is less than 20 – FAIL
- Moderate Price to Assets – PB ratio is less than 2.5 or PB x PEmg is less than 50 – FAIL
Enterprising Investor – must pass at least 4 of the following 5 tests or be suitable for a defensive investor: Score = 3/5
- Sufficiently Strong Financial Condition, Part 1 – current ratio greater than 1.5 – FAIL
- Sufficiently Strong Financial Condition, Part 2 – Debt to Net Current Assets ratio less than 1.1 – FAIL
- Earnings Stability – positive earnings per share for at least 5 years – PASS
- Dividend Record – currently pays a dividend – PASS
- Earnings growth – EPSmg greater than 5 years ago – PASS
|Value Based on 3% Growth||$22.59|
|Value Based on 0% Growth||$13.24|
|Market Implied Growth Rate||27.69%|
|Net Current Asset Value (NCAV)||-$38.47|
Balance Sheet – September 2014
Earnings Per Share
Earnings Per Share – ModernGraham
American Tower Corporation is not suitable for either the Defensive Investor or the Enterprising Investor. The Defensive Investor is concerned with the low current ratio, the short dividend history, the lack of sufficient earnings growth or stability over the last ten years, and the high PEmg and PB ratios. The Enterprising Investor is concerned with the high level of debt relative to the current assets. As a result, value investors following the ModernGraham approach should explore other opportunities at this time. From a valuation side of things, the company appears to be overvalued after growing its EPSmg (normalized earnings) from $0.66 in 2010 to an estimated $1.56 in 2014. This demonstrated level of growth does not support the market’s implied estimate of 27.69% earnings growth over the next 7-10 years. As a result, the ModernGraham valuation model returns an estimate of intrinsic value that is below the market price.
The next part of the analysis is up to individual investors, and requires discussion of the company’s prospects. What do you think? What value would you put on American Tower Corporation (AMT)? Where do you see the company going in the future? Is there a company you like better? Leave a comment on our Facebook page or mention @ModernGraham on Twitter to discuss.
Disclaimer: The author did not hold a position in American Tower Corporation (AMT) or any other company mentioned in the article at the time of publication and had no intention of changing that position within the next 72 hours. Logo taken from wikipedia; this article is not affiliated with the company in any manner.