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 Crown Castle International (CCI) fares in the ModernGraham valuation model.
Company Profile (obtained from Google Finance): Crown Castle International Corp. (CCIC) is a real estate investment trust (REIT) company. The Company owns, operates and leases shared wireless infrastructure, including towers and other structures, such as rooftops (towers), and to a lesser extent, distributed antenna systems (DAS), a type of small cell network (small cells), and interests in land under third party towers in various forms (third party land interests). Its core business is renting space or physical capacity (collectively, space) on its towers, DAS and, to a lesser extent, third party land interests (collectively, site rental business) through long-term contracts in various forms, including license, sublease and lease agreements (collectively, contracts). The Company owned, leased or managed approximately 39,600 towers in the United States, including Puerto Rico, and approximately 1,700 towers in Australia.
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||$27.25|
|Value Based on 0% Growth||$15.97|
|Market Implied Growth Rate||17.64%|
|Net Current Asset Value (NCAV)||-$40.90|
Balance Sheet – December 2014
Earnings Per Share
Earnings Per Share – ModernGraham
Crown Castle International Corp is not suitable for either the Defensive Investor or the Enterprising Investor. The Defensive Investor is concerned with the low current ratio, lack of earnings stability or growth over the last ten years, inconsistent dividend record, 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 despite growing its EPSmg (normalized earnings) from a loss of $0.32 in 2011 to an estimated gain of $1.88 in 2015. This level of growth does not support the market’s implied estimate of 17.64% annual earnings growth over the next 7-10 years, leading the ModernGraham valuation model to return an estimate of intrinsic value falling below the current price. As a result, the company is considered to be overvalued at this time.
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 Crown Castle International Corp (CCI)? 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 Crown Castle International Corp (CCI) 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.