According to Jay Brown, CEO of Crown Castle International Corp., over the last two decades, the REIT has established a portfolio of more than 40,000 towers and 65,000 route miles of high capacity fiber in the top U.S. markets it sees the greatest long-term growth. “We continue to believe the U.S. represents the best market in the world to earn shared communication infrastructure, and we believe our ability to offer a combination of towers, small cells, and fiber solutions to our customers provides a valuable differentiation in the market.
On the company’s Q3 call, he highlighted two important things. “First, our strategy to invest in towers and small cells and fiber has positioned us to capture accelerating leasing activity which is driving dividend growth. And secondly, we continue to see tremendous opportunities to invest in new assets that we believe will generate future growth.”
On the first point, he said, “executing on our strategy is leading to consistent dividend growth. As we increased our annualized common stock dividend by 7% to $4.50 per share, in line with what we believe our AFFO per share growth will be in 2019.”
The growth in 2019 is based in part on the company’s pipeline of contract with new business which has increased in each quarter this year, he explained, and is driving the accelerating new leasing growth the company expects to see in 2019. “We expect the positive trends to continue as we expect towers to contribute approximately $125 million to new leasing growth in 2019, which is up nearly 15% from the $110 million we expect to see in 2018.”
Likewise, he said, the company expects small cells to generate new leasing activity of approximately $75 million in 2019, which is more than 35% higher than the $55 million the company expected in 2018. “In addition to the expected acceleration and new leasing activity, our pipeline of contracted small cell nodes to be constructed over the next 18 to 24 months continues to grow, and currently stands at an all-time high of approximately 35,000, which is up 40% from this time last year.”