1. Crown Castle (CCI) owns, operates and leases wireless infrastructure and towers in the U.S. and Australia. Its stock has dropped 10% in 2011 and 15% in the past four weeks. Crown Castle's adjusted fourth-quarter earnings more than doubled to 12 cents, outpacing the consensus estimate by 45%. Its sales, up 12% year-over-year, outgrew consensus by 1.5%. The gross margin extended from 67% to 69% and the operating margin climbed from 28% to 33%. Crown Castle has $334 million of cash and $6.8 billion of debt, for a high debt-to-equity ratio of 2.5.
Crown Castle's stock trades at a forward earnings multiple of 50, a book value multiple of 4.1, a sales multiple of 6.0 and a cash flow multiple of 19, 255%, 17% and 166% premiums to wireless telecom industry averages. Of equity analysts evaluating Crown Castle, 16, or 70%, advise clients to buy its stock, six recommend holding and one advocates selling the shares. Deutsche Bank offers the highest target, at $57, suggesting a 12-month return of 45%. Goldman expects a rise of 37% to $54. Piper Jaffray more conservatively forecasts a 15% advance to $45.
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