) and Crown Castle (CCI
) to strong buy from buy.
Analyst Naveen Sarma says despite his belief that tower stocks are trading at a discount to long-term value, he's long argued that lacking a positive catalyst, near term uncertainties and limited visibility would overhang the group. But he notes the economy is showing signs of rebounding, and several wireless carriers reaffirmed 2002 guidance, and the group has reported improving financials along with stabilizing liquidity positions.
Sarma says Crown Castle has the best liquidy in the group, and was the first company to shift to a operational focus. He raised his $9 target to $13. He also says SBA is the fastest grower in the group, trading at only 8.7 times his 2003 EBITDA estimate. For SBA, he maintains his $10 target.