Cellnex Telecom, Europe’s largest independent tower company, today announced its Q4 and full-year 2021 earnings, outlook for 2022, reiterated its long-term projections through 2025, detailed new growth initiatives in France and Portugal, and disclosed purchases of minority stake investments, as well as potential divestments following prior M&A deals.

Financial Performance in Q4 2021 – Cellnex Telecom

In Q4 2021, Cellnex reported the following key metrics for the three months ended December 31, 2021:

  • Revenue: €776m, equivalent to an 11.1% increase quarter-over-quarter
  • Adjusted EBITDA: €587m, resulting in a 10.6% increase quarter-over-quarter and implying a 75.5% margin, which is a ~40 bps decline quarter-over-quarter
  • Recurring Levered Free Cash Flow (RLFCF): €321m, equating to a 20.5% increase quarter-over-quarter

Due to the company’s significant inorganic growth through M&A, prior period comparisons are not as meaningful. However, Cellnex notes that it achieved organic growth of 6.2% year-over-year.

Revenue Composition

Decomposing the company’s €776m of revenue shows that wireless carriers contributed €696m (90% of total), broadcasting added €55m (7% of total), and other network services (e.g., Internet of Things and smart cities) made-up the remaining €26m (3% of total).

Full-Year 2021, Outlook for 2022, and Long-Term – Cellnex Telecom

Full-Year 2021

For full-year 2021, Cellnex reported:

  • Revenue: €2.54bn, a 58% increase year-over-year
  • Adjusted EBITDA: €1.92bn, a 63% increase year-over-year. Additionally, Cellnex’s results imply a 75.7% adjusted EBITDA margin, a 2.3% improvement year-over-year
  • Recurring Levered Free Cash Flow (RLFCF): €981m, a 61% increase year-over-year

Notably, Cellnex generated organic revenue growth of ~€120m year-over-year driven by build-to-suit (BTS) programs, escalators/inflation, and new colocations.

Outlook for 2022

For full-year 2022, Cellnex provides an outlook for:

  • Revenue: €3.46bn to €3.51bn, a 37% increase year-over-year, at the mid-point
  • Adjusted EBITDA: €2.65bn to €2.70bn, implying a 76.8% adjusted EBITDA margin, and a 39% increase year-over-year, at the mid-point
  • Recurring Levered Free Cash Flow (RLFCF): €1.35bn to €1.38bn, a 39% increase year-over-year, at the mid-point

Long-Term Outlook – Through 2025

Cellnex reiterated its long-term growth outlook through 2025, which contemplates:

  • Revenue: €4.1bn to €4.3bn, a 13% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2025
  • Adjusted EBITDA: €3.3bn to €3.5bn, implying an 81.0% adjusted EBITDA margin, and a 15% CAGR through 2025
  • Recurring Levered Free Cash Flow (RLFCF): €2.0bn to €2.2bn, a 21% CAGR through 2025. Additionally, assuming the mid-point of Cellnex’s guidance, the company will generate an ~8% RLFCF yield, based on a €26.4bn market capitalization in 2025

Operational Tower Portfolio as of Q4 2021 – Cellnex Telecom

As of Q4 2021, Cellnex had 101.8k operational tower sites, with 134.8k tenants, which equates to a tenancy ratio of 1.32x. Specifically, these operational sites are in the following countries, ordered by number of sites:

Country# of Sites# of TenantsTenancy Ratio
France22.8k26.6k1.17x
Italy20.3k30.8k1.52x
Poland14.7k16.5k1.12x
Spain10.4k16.8k1.62x
UK8.0k11.8k1.47x
Portugal5.9k7.0k1.20x
Switzerland5.4k6.1k1.14x
Austria4.5k5.2k1.16x
Netherlands4.1k6.0k1.48x
Sweden2.7k3.4k1.28x
Ireland1.8k3.1k1.67x
Denmark1.4k1.5k1.10x
Total101.8k134.8k1.32x

Additionally, Cellnex operates 5.2k small cells and distributed antenna system (DAS) nodes throughout Europe.

New Growth Initiatives

In recent months, Cellnex has announced new agreements in the following geographies, which require ~€1.9bn in total investments:

France

In France, Cellnex has secured agreements with Bouygues Telecom, Iliad, and Société du Grand Paris, which contemplate ~€1.5bn in total investment through 2028:

  • New build-to-suit (BTS) program for Bouygues Telecom comprising up to 2.85k new sites by 2028
  • Expansion of the 51%/49% joint venture for fiber-to-the-tower (FTTT) deployments to support 5G in France, known as nexLoop, with Bouygues Telecom
  • New BTS program for Iliad comprising up to 2.0k new sites by 2028
  • Providing connectivity services to the new lines 16 and 17 of the Paris Métro (rapid transit system) through an agreement with Société du Grand Paris

Portugal and Other

In Portugal and through other initiatives, Cellnex has entered into agreements which comprise ~€400m in total investment:

  • Acquisition of 687 sites (223 macro towers and 464 small cells) in Portugal from MEO (Altice Portugal) for €209m ($245m USD), equivalent to €304k per site
  • Acquisition of 63 sites in Portugal from ONI (Oni Telecom)
  • Providing connectivity services to the London to Brighton rail line in the United Kingdom
  • Providing connectivity services to the ProRail rail network in the Netherlands

BT Group

Cellnex, through Arqiva, and BT Group, via EE, agreed to extend their current MSSA (Master Site Service Agreement) to the end of 2030, which includes the option for BT to lengthen it further, by an additional 10 years, until 2040 on an “all or nothing basis”.

Minority Stake Investments and Potential Divestments – Cellnex Telecom

Minority Stake Investments

Iliad France – Towers

Cellnex purchased, for €950m, the remaining 30% stake that Iliad held in their co-owned 5.7k-site tower company in France. In turn, Cellnex gained 100% ownership of the Iliad tower portfolio in France.

Iliad Poland – Towers

Cellnex acquired, for €140m, an additional 10% stake that Iliad held in their co-owned 7.4k-site tower company in Poland, which supports wireless carrier Play. As such, Cellnex increases its ownership to 70% in Iliad’s Poland sites, while Iliad retains a 30% stake.

Potential Divestments

Cellnex estimates that it will receive proceeds of ~€1.1bn from the following potential divestments:

Beyond divestments, Cellnex noted in its Q4 2021 earnings release that it “does not rule out opening up the capital structure of certain subsidiaries to allow the entry of minority shareholders as a means of additional financing”.

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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