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Tickers in this Article: AMT
On Wednesday, October 31, 2012, American Tower (NYSE:AMT) will release its third quarter earnings. Analysts expect the company to report a profit.

Earnings are perhaps the single most studied number in a company's financial statements because they show a company's profitability. SEE: 5 Tricks Companies Use During Earnings Season

What to Expect: The average earnings estimate for American is 38 cents per share, up from a loss of 4 cents a year ago.

The consensus estimate is down from 42 cents three months ago, but it hasn't changed in the last month. Analysts are projecting earnings of $1.47 per share for the fiscal year.

Revenue is expected to exceed last year's figure of $630.4 million by 13.5% and come in at $715.3 million for the quarter. American is expected to report revenue of $2.84 billion for the fiscal year.

Company Performance: Over the past four quarters, American has reported double-digit revenue growth. The average revenue increase has been 20.7%. The first quarter marked the biggest jump of 23.8%.

The P/E ratio for AMT is 63.9, above the industry average of 14.57. This could mean that the market is expecting big things over the next few months or years. The P/E ratio has been used for ages by analysts and still remains one of the most relevant pieces of stock valuation. From the investor's perspective, a stock with a lower ratio is relatively cheaper than a stock with a higher ratio. 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 (14 of 17) 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 nine out of 30 analysts rate the latter a buy.

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