The nationwide launch of fifth-generation (5G) wireless networks three years ago heralded the start of a new investment cycle. It marked the first time in over a decade that wireless carriers had significantly upgraded their infrastructure. Going from 4G LTE to 5G means the potential for a massive increase in download speeds, possibly 100 times greater! This lead us to creating this list of 5G stocks to buy.
For mobile phone users, the change promises to meet their data-hungry demands for greater bandwidth. For the carriers, it promises more profits as data usage tends to be the most profitable portion of their business. The revolution should usher in a device replacement cycle that could last for years.
What follows are a trio of the top undervalued 5G stocks you can buy for your portfolio today.
There is no good reason the market hung up on Ma Bell. AT&T (NYSE:T) is perfectly positioned to capitalize on the trends sweeping the industry. However, since the market chooses to offer up the telecom at a discount, investors should not hesitate to buy.
Customers love AT&T’s service. Its phone churn rate of 0.79% last quarter shows they stick with the carrier after signing up for service. In comparison, Verizon (NYSE:VZ) reported its churn was 0.85%. The carrier says managing churn “is critical to our ability to maximize revenue growth and to maintain and improve margins.” Operating margins improved 90 basis points to 24.9% in the latest period while EBITDA margin jump to 43% from 40.8% a year ago.
AT&T added yet another 468,000 postpaid phone net additions this quarter. That’s a metric the industry uses to signify a company’s success at attracting customers and generating dependable revenue streams. It’s now has 8.7 million postpaid phone adds over the last three years compared to fewer than 1 million in the three years prior to 2020.
AT&T trades at six times earnings estimates, a fraction of sales, and a deeply discounted seven times free cash flow (). These are incredibly cheap valuations, even for telecoms.
Rival carrier T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) might not be as deep into the bargain bin as Ma Bell, but the “Un-carrier” is still deceptively cheap. Wall Street forecasts the telecom will grow earnings at a blistering 67% annually for the next five years. Both AT&T and Verizon are essentially expected to see negligible growth. That means T-Mobile trades at just 0.3 times its earnings growth rate. It also just became the largest prepaid carrier when it finished the third quarter with 21.6 million compared to Verizon’s 21.4 million.
T-Mobile is only just ramping up its growth. Adjusted FCF grew to $4 billion this past quarter, a 94% increase from last year. It now expects FCF to be between $13.4 billion and $13.6 billion for the full year. It’s also notable the telecom now pays a dividend.
Announced last quarter, it yields a paltry 0.4% annually (the first payment will be in December). In contrast, AT&T yields 7% while Verizon’s yields 7.3%. However, it’s part of a larger capital allocation program. T-Mobile promised to return $19 billion to shareholders throughout the next five quarters. Dividends would be $3.75 billion between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2024. The remainder would be share buybacks.
The Un-carrier is an unusual opportunity for investors looking to cash in on the industry’s future growth.
American Tower (AMT)
Not a carrier, real estate investment trust (AMT) is still essential to and will benefit from the 5G boom. As its name suggests, the REIT leases space on its towers primarily to wireless service providers, but also to radio and TV broadcasters, wireless data providers and the government.) American Tower (NYSE:
American Tower operates under long-term leases of between five to 10 years. It has historically low churn rates of just 1% to 2%, though it expects rates to be higher through 2025. Obligations it has with T-Mobile will see a number of those leases expire and not renew. After adding a tenant, American Tower incurs little additional cost. That means it enjoys high profits margins with little fluctuation. Trailing gross margins are north of 71% while operating margins are 31.7%.
The stock is down 10% over the last year. Inflation impacted American Tower’s performance, like other REITs. Yet, similar to all REITs, American Tower still has to pay out at least 90% of its profits as dividends. Its dividend currently yields a healthy 3.2%. If inflation eases, expect its profits to soar. That makes this undervalued REIT a 5G stock to buy now, and it more than earned its spot on our list of 5G stocks to buy.
On the date of publication, Rich Duprey held a LONG position in T stock. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.