An extended rollout of two wireless industry developments could translate to increased revenues through next year for tower companies like American Tower and Crown Castle International, according to a new analysis ahead of third-quarter earnings reports.
Robert Gutman and Justin Ages of Guggenheim Securities write in a note that as 2018 approaches, they expect an increased focus on “timing and ‘next steps’” for a pair of industry catalysts: the FirstNet network for first responders and the deployment of 600 MHz spectrum.
Although the number of states signing on to FirstNet continues to grow, the analysts predicted that the network could see limited activity in the first half of next year but could steadily increase through the course of 2018.
Initial work on 600 MHz spectrum, meanwhile, could be delayed due to safety concerns and the limited availability of crews to conduct spectrum repacking, and the 39-month deadline to complete the repacking could be extended.
The note suggested that although 2018 will likely see increased carrier spending, the bulk of that increase could take place in the latter half of the year.
As carriers prepare to report their third-quarter financial results, the analysts suggested that spending remained largely unchanged compared to the first half of the year. Market leader Verizon saw normal spending levels, while T-Mobile’s spending remained high and Sprint continued “to show a little sign of improvement.” The reported merger talks between the latter two companies continue to loom over the entire industry.
AT&T, meanwhile, was not “as active as anticipated earlier in the year and continues to negotiate terms with tower operators.”
Guggenheim said that although the third-quarter reports will show “some increase in near-term concerns,” investors are likely to focus on “the magnitude and longevity of the new spending cycle.”
“A key data point in company reports will be CCI’s full year 2018 guidance — which we expect to remain conservative given the spending trend and uncertainty of timing of key catalysts,” the analysts wrote.
Filed Under: Infrastructure