Crown Castle International Corporation (NYSE: CCI) and Cogent Communications Holdings (NASDAQ:CCOI) are both mid-cap finance companies, but which is the superior stock? We will contrast the two companies based on the strength of their risk, dividends, profitability, valuation, analyst recommendations, institutional ownership and earnings.

Insider and Institutional Ownership

84.2% of Crown Castle International Corporation shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 94.3% of Cogent Communications Holdings shares are held by institutional investors. 0.4% of Crown Castle International Corporation shares are held by company insiders. Comparatively, 9.5% of Cogent Communications Holdings shares are held by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, large money managers and endowments believe a stock is poised for long-term growth.

Volatility & Risk

Crown Castle International Corporation has a beta of 0.2, suggesting that its stock price is 80% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Cogent Communications Holdings has a beta of 0.74, suggesting that its stock price is 26% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Profitability

This table compares Crown Castle International Corporation and Cogent Communications Holdings’ net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Crown Castle International Corporation 11.14% 6.21% 1.95%
Cogent Communications Holdings 3.39% -27.66% 2.24%

Earnings and Valuation

This table compares Crown Castle International Corporation and Cogent Communications Holdings’ revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Crown Castle International Corporation $4.08 billion 10.04 $2.17 billion $1.25 80.68
Cogent Communications Holdings $455.43 million 4.28 $143.43 million $0.36 121.25

Crown Castle International Corporation has higher revenue and earnings than Cogent Communications Holdings. Crown Castle International Corporation is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Cogent Communications Holdings, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Analyst Ratings

This is a summary of recent recommendations and price targets for Crown Castle International Corporation and Cogent Communications Holdings, as provided by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Crown Castle International Corporation 0 4 8 0 2.67
Cogent Communications Holdings 2 4 7 0 2.38

Crown Castle International Corporation presently has a consensus target price of $104.05, suggesting a potential upside of 3.17%. Cogent Communications Holdings has a consensus target price of $42.45, suggesting a potential downside of 2.74%. Given Crown Castle International Corporation’s stronger consensus rating and higher probable upside, equities research analysts plainly believe Crown Castle International Corporation is more favorable than Cogent Communications Holdings.

Dividends

Crown Castle International Corporation pays an annual dividend of $3.80 per share and has a dividend yield of 3.8%. Cogent Communications Holdings pays an annual dividend of $1.76 per share and has a dividend yield of 4.0%. Crown Castle International Corporation pays out 304.0% of its earnings in the form of a dividend, suggesting it may not have sufficient earnings to cover its dividend payment in the future. Cogent Communications Holdings pays out 488.9% of its earnings in the form of a dividend, suggesting it may not have sufficient earnings to cover its dividend payment in the future. Cogent Communications Holdings has increased its dividend for 2 consecutive years. Cogent Communications Holdings is clearly the better dividend stock, given its higher yield and longer track record of dividend growth.

Summary

Crown Castle International Corporation beats Cogent Communications Holdings on 10 of the 17 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Crown Castle International Corporation

Castle International Corp. (CCIC) is a real estate investment trust (REIT) company. The Company owns, operates and leases shared wireless infrastructure, including towers and other structures, such as rooftops (towers), and to a lesser extent, distributed antenna systems (DAS), a type of small cell network (small cells), and interests in land under third party towers in various forms (third party land interests). Its core business is renting space or physical capacity (collectively, space) on its towers, DAS and, to a lesser extent, third party land interests (collectively, site rental business) through long-term contracts in various forms, including license, sublease and lease agreements (collectively, contracts). The Company owned, leased or managed approximately 39,600 towers in the United States, including Puerto Rico, and approximately 1,700 towers in Australia.

About Cogent Communications Holdings

Cogent Communications Holdings, Inc. is a facilities-based provider of Internet access and Internet Protocol (IP), communications services. The Company’s network is specifically designed and optimized to transmit data using IP. The Company delivers its services primarily to small and medium-sized businesses, communications service providers and other bandwidth-intensive organizations in North America, Europe and in Japan. The Company offers on-net services in over 175 metropolitan markets. The Company serves 1,990 on-net buildings. The Company’s on-net service in North America is its Fast Ethernet service, which provides Internet access at 100 megabits per second. It also offers Internet access services at higher speeds of up to ten Gigabits per second. These services are generally used by customers that have businesses, such as Web hosting, that are Internet-based.

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