American Tower CEO Says REIT’s Investment Thesis is “Unwavering”

Tom Bartlett, president & CEO of American Tower Corp. (NYSE: AMT), participated in a video interview in conjunction with Nareit’s REITweek: Virtual Investor Conference (being held June 2-4).

Bartlett took over as CEO earlier this year, after more than 10 years at American Tower. He described the company’s business model, which has been deployed for more than 20 years, as “incredibly resilient and sustainable in just about all kinds of economic environments.”

Factors behind the model’s success include the REIT’s long-term contracts with well-capitalized customers, as well as the essential nature of its infrastructure, Bartlett said. He also noted that the business model can manage itself and operate remotely, even to the extent of using drones to inspect assets.

Meanwhile, the company’s strategic plan, Stand and Deliver, is technology-driven, “so we’re really leveraging the globe’s digital transformation initiatives as well as all the government decrees,” Bartlett said.

At the same time, American Tower’s investment grade status and billions of dollars in liquidity, “gives us a really good standing in terms of being able to continue to make those necessary investments in our business, [and] support our growing dividend, so our investment thesis is really unwavering,” he said.

Bartlett also discussed the T-Mobile/Sprint merger: “We could see some shorter-term churn in terms of some of their leases, but overall we expect a significant amount of new business from them.”

The new T-Mobile, in addition to the entrance of DISH Network, is “a very positive growth engine” for years to come,” he added.

Bartlett said American Tower also expects the pace of new sites abroad to grow, with 5,000 to 6,000 new sites being built this year across 19 markets. “Our customers are investing heavily, particularly outside the U.S.,” he said.