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Tickers in this Article: AMT
When American Tower (NYSE:AMT) releases its second quarter earnings on Wednesday, August 1, 2012, it is expected to report earnings that are up 44.8% from a year ago. The consensus estimate is 42 cents per share, up from earnings of 29 cents per share a year ago.

Earnings are perhaps the single most studied number in a company's financial statements because they show a company's profitability. SEE: 12 Things You Need To Know About Financial Statements

What to Expect: Over the past three months, this has increased from 41 cents. For the fiscal year, analysts are projecting earnings of $1.81 per share.

American is expected to beat last year's reported revenue of $597.2 million and come in at $698.3 million for the quarter. For the fiscal year, expected revenue is $2.84 billion.

Company Performance: Revenue has grown by double-digit increases in the past four quarters. It has risen by an average of 23.2%, with the biggest increase of 27.1% coming in the second quarter of the last fiscal year.

The P/E ratio for AMT is 52.5, above the industry average of 14.01. Usually, if a stock has a high P/E ratio, it indicates that the market expects the company to grow earnings quickly in the future. The P/E ratio has been used for ages by analysts and still remains one of the most relevant pieces of stock valuation. High P/E stocks could be "growth" stocks, while low PE stocks may be "value" stocks. SEE: How To Find P/E And PEG Ratios

The Competition: American Tower develops, owns, and operates communications sites throughout the country. Among its holdings are wireless communications towers, broadcast communications towers, and distributed antenna system. The majority of analysts (16 of 18) rate American a buy. This marks a small improvement, as the number of buy ratings has risen slightly over the past three months.

The company's closest competitor in the communications services industry is AT&T (T). Analysts are more optimistic about American than about AT&T. Only 10 out of 30 analysts rate the latter a buy.

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