International highlights from American Tower’s Q1 2016 earnings call

On April 29, American Tower (AMT) released its Q1 2016 results and hosted an earnings call with James Taiclet, Chairman, President & CEO, Thomas Bartlett, CFO & EVP and Leah Stearns, SVP, Treasurer and IR.

Commenting on the company’s strong growth rate, the executives highlighted that over the last year, AMT built, leased or acquired more than 25,000 sites across various markets, including Verizon’s, Airtel’s Nigerian and TIM’s Brazilian portfolio, plus 3,700 sites worldwide that the towerco built by itself.

With regards to AMT’s overseas operations, Bartlett commented that “Our international markets generated organic growth over 600 basis points higher than the U.S. and over 350 basis points higher than it generated in Q1 of 2015 at over 13% on a consolidated basis, the highest rate in the last two years.”

Specifically, here are some of the highlights of each of AMT’s international markets as discussed during the earnings call.

India

Organic core growth in India reached 12% thanks to local operators being particularly involved in the deployment of new technologies and networks.

In 2016, the company forecasts revenues up to US$555mn from Viom, whose recently acquired portfolio will be merged with AMT’s existing legacy business over the next year to eighteen months. With regards to future steps, the company plans to take the ownership interest of Viom up from the current 51% to somewhere in the mid 60s.

AMT’s goal remains to eventually own 100% of Viom, cooperating with partners such as TATA and Macquarie, but the process could take up to four years. In the meantime, merging the two businesses is the top priority.

AMT is currently integrating multiple MLAs across the two portfolios. A process that might take up to eighteen months to consolidate. In terms of its “lease ability”, Taiclet added that most of the documentation and systems are already there, since Viom was already operating as an independent towerco.

For 2016, American Tower anticipates core growth around 14% in India.

Mexico and Brazil

American Tower scored organic core growth over 13% in Central and Latin America, with Mexico around 10% and Brazil at 13%. AMT commented that in spite of some macro-economic challenges, network rollouts in the region are still strong.

While Mexico is undergoing what AMT defined “aggressive 4G rollouts”, Brazil is still in the process of augmenting its 3G network.

Taiclet discussed the Mexican dynamics by adding that the country is undergoing a shift that has already happened in the U.S. with the adoption of 4G and the resulting changing dynamics in service pricing and handset pricing.

In-building

With regards to in-building, Bartlett commented that American Tower is a technology pioneer especially in CALA and is looking at transferring this knowledge into new markets such as Africa.

Mexico and Brazil are very strong in-building markets and in India, thanks to the acquisition of Viom, American Tower added around 200 in-building sites, which is more than ATC India previously owned.

EMEA

EMEA is the fasted growing region in AMT’s portfolio with organic core growth over 14%, which goes up to 18% by excluding Germany which is a more mature hence a less performing market.

M&A

Asked about potential new deals, Taiclet concluded that “if the asset prices are too high you are not going to see us active, if asset prices are within our investment criteria you will see us move very quickly to move forward.”

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