American Tower today announced its Q3 2021 earnings and provided updates on its i) organic tenant billings growth by region, ii) churn, iii) details on its recent M&A activity which includes DataSite, and iv) disclosed further details on its entry into new markets in Asia-Pacific, namely Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Q3 2021 Results – American Tower

As of Q3 2021, American Tower owns 219k communications sites globally, of which 175k are located in international markets. During the quarter, American Tower’s property revenue was $2.4bn (97% of total), which grew 7.3% quarter-over-quarter (FX-neutral basis). Decomposing this figure:

  • United States & Canada: property revenue declined by 0.2% quarter-over-quarter
  • International: property revenue growth was 16.9% quarter-over-quarter (FX-neutral basis)

Notably, American Tower’s International growth figures benefited from acquisitions, particularly Telxius. Therefore, the company’s organic tenant billings growth presents a more accurate view of trends.

Organic Tenant Billings Growth – Q3 2021

Overall, American Tower generated net organic tenant billings growth of 4.9% in Q3 2021.

American Tower Organic Tenant Billings Growth Q3 2021

Of this total, the U.S. and Canada had 4.3% organic growth, while international markets experienced 5.9% organic growth. Specifically, organic growth in international markets was strong in Africa (9.4%), Latin America (7.0%), and Europe (5.4%), in addition to turning positive in India (0.7%).

Churn (Cancellations)

Below we highlight three markets where American Tower experienced notable changes in churn during Q3 2021, namely the U.S. & Canada, Latin America, and India.

United States and Canada

In Q3 2021, American Tower’s churn in the U.S. & Canada ticked up to 2.1%, having previously been below 2% for every quarter since the beginning of 2020. Moreover, the company expects the first and largest tranche of its contractual churn from wireless carrier Sprint to impact its results in Q4 2021. Indeed, American Tower’s 2021 Outlook implies a U.S. net organic tenant billings growth rate of -1% for Q4 2021.

Additionally, American Tower’s projected U.S. & Canada organic tenant billings growth of ~3% for 2021, implies U.S. & Canada organic tenant billings growth of ~1% for 2022 – applying the company’s multi-year outlook.

Latin America

In Q3 2021, American Tower’s churn in Latin America jumped ~100 bps, up to 2.3%, as compared to an average of only 1.3% in the past four quarters. Below is select country market color outlining why churn increased in Latin America, particularly as it relates to wireless carriers exiting markets or consolidating:

  • Brazil: Claro, which is owned by América Móvil, is consolidating sites from its 2019 acquisition of Nextel
  • Mexico: Telefónica is becoming a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in Mexico and migrating its wireless traffic to AT&T. As a result, Telefónica is gradually decommissioning its tower infrastructure in Mexico
India

In Q3 2021, American Tower’s churn in India reached 9.5%, dropping below 10% for the first time in several years. For reference, the company’s churn a year prior, in Q3 2020, was 13.4%. Notably, the country’s improved outlook is supported by India’s federal cabinet approving reforms and relief for the country’s wireless carriers, as it relates to spectrum charges.

Full-Year 2021 Outlook – American Tower

For full-year 2021, American Tower’s outlook contemplates property revenue of $9.07bn, an increase of 14% over 2020, at the mid-point. Additionally, the company is targeting adjusted EBITDA of $5.96bn (65.7% margin).

Through its full-year 2021 outlook, American Tower is forecasting consolidated organic tenant billings growth of ~4%. Notably, this growth rate and its components by operating region are unchanged from American Tower’s outlook as of Q2 2021.

Portfolio Growth – M&A and Tower Builds by American Tower

Telxius Towers – Closing

During Q3 2021, American Tower spent ~$700m to acquire 4.4k communications sites ($160k per site), primarily in international markets. Within this total, the company acquired ~4.0k rooftop sites in Germany as part of completing the final portion of its Telxius acquisition.

DataSite

In October 2021, American Tower acquired DataSite, an owner and operator of two multi-tenant data centers in Atlanta, Georgia and Orlando, Florida for $201m. In aggregate, these facilities have 18 megawatts of combined power, as well as an additional 4.5 megawatts of expansion capacity.

ATC Europe – Minority Stake Sale

In September 2021, American Tower closed its 48% stake sale in ATC Europe, the company’s European division, to CDPQ and Allianz for total consideration of €2.6bn ($3.1bn). As a result, American Tower presently holds a 52% controlling ownership interest in ATC Europe. Finally, PGGM holds a 13% and a 17% minority interest, respectively, in ATC Europe’s operating subsidiaries in Germany and Spain.

Site Builds by American Tower

During Q3 2021, American Tower built 1.4k new tower sites, primarily in Asia-Pacific/India (868 sites) and Africa (327 sites). Particularly, in Africa, the company is building the majority of its new sites in Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda.

For full-year 2021, American Tower anticipates building a total of 6.5k to 7.5k tower sites globally. Specifically, these new builds include India (4.5k sites) and Africa (1.3k sites), amongst others. Also, American Tower has set a long-term goal of constructing 40k to 50k communications sites globally, over the next 5 years.

New Markets for American Tower in Q3 2021 – Bangladesh, Philippines

In Q3 2021, American Tower made further disclosures about its entry into new markets in the Asia-Pacific region, namely Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Bangladesh

American Tower operates in Bangladesh via its subsidiary Transcend Infrastructure Holdings. During Q3 2021, the company began operations in Bangladesh with the acquisition of a 51% controlling interest in Kirtonkhola Tower Bangladesh Limited through a joint venture partnership with Confidence Tower Holdings Ltd. As of quarter-end, American Tower operates 76 sites in Bangladesh.

Philippines

American Tower operates in the Philippines via its subsidiary Transcend Towers Infrastructure. As of Q3 2021, American Tower owns 23 sites in the Philippines, adding 5 sites quarter-over-quarter.

Adam Simmons is the Founder & CEO of Dgtl Infra. He started his career with an S&P 500-listed big box retailer, in an operations management role. Adam's entrepreneurial "itch" led him to start a 5G-driven company, focused on innovative retail solutions using augmented reality and shoppable videos, which was eventually sold to an advertising and consulting group. After, realizing the potential of 5G, Adam shifted his efforts towards investing in the "building blocks" of 5G - known as digital infrastructure, completing a number of strategic investments, buying cellular towers, data centers and fiber networks.

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