American Tower Corp. (AMT) reported its fourth-quarter earnings rose 30% as improving rental and management revenue masked sliding margins.
Cell-tower operators have benefited from volume increases as wireless carriers continue to grow, prompting them to spend more on upgrades. The company has continued its global expansion, announcing in December that it would pay $428 million to own 51% of a joint venture in Ghana with African wireless provider MTN Group. This came on the heels of a $430 million acquisition of 1,4000 towers from a South African company in November. It also launched operations in Colombia and Peru and expanded threefold in India earlier in the year.
American Tower reported a fourth-quarter profit of $83.5 million, or 21 cents a share, up from $64.4 million, or 16 cents, a year earlier. Revenue increased 22% to $547.6 million.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were looking for earnings of 22 cents a share on revenue of $538 million.
Operating margin slid to 37.1% from 39.4%.
Rental and management revenue climbed 23% to $536.3 million, while network development services revenue slipped 11%.
Shares closed at $52.98 and were inactive premarket.
-By Lauren Pollock and Lee Roberts, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2356; email@example.com