Muddy Waters gained notoriety for outing some U.S.-listed fraudulent Chinese companies. Shareholders of Muddy Waters target companies in most cases have been wise to sell first and ask questions later.
Today Muddy Waters is out with a short recommendation and lengthy report on American Tower:
Muddy Waters rates American Tower Corporation (AMT
) shares a strong sell. In this latest report Muddy Waters highlights how:
Link to the full 118 page report
- We rate American Tower Corp. (NYSE: AMT) a Strong Sell and value it at $44.57 per share, representing downside of 40%. AMT has serious challenges domestically and internationally that have not been factored into the stock price. It has engaged in a value destroying investment binge overseas, and we have identified a significant material misstatement in the Company’s accounts that could amount to fraud.
- There is an approximately US$250 million discrepancy between what AMT claims to have paid for the acquisition of towers in Brazil, and the actual selling price. AMT claimed to have paid US$585.4 million for the towers, but the real price was close to US$300 million. If AMT is aware of this discrepancy, it would amount to fraud. We have provided our research to the SEC.
- CEO James Taiclet’s consistent sales of approximately 90% of the shares he receives from option exercises suggests a lack of faith in the sustainability of AMT’s business – ironically, this is a view we share with him.
- AMT’s international business is in part a de facto lending business that artificially inflates revenue, EBITDA, and AFFO. It is also part carry trade and part levered directional currency bet. This bet has resoundingly gone south this year.
- AMT’s international IRRs are generally poor and far below cost of capital.
- While wireless data usage will grow, much of this growth will circumvent cellular towers. Wi-Fi and more recently introduced technologies are making towers the data delivery option of last resort.
- AMT’s REIT-focused investors will be disappointed by their inability to access AMT’s overseas cash flows.
- Wall Street is setting investors up for a fall in AMT. We have reviewed five analyst models, and it is clear that they do not understand the company or know how to model it.