This is a securities fraud class action brought on behalf of investors who purchased Crown Castle International Corp. (“Crown Castle”) securities between February 26, 2018 and February 26, 2020, inclusive (the “Class Period”).
Crown Castle is a Real Estate Investment Trust that owns and leases roughly 40,000 cell towers in the U.S. Crown Castle generates revenue by leasing space on its towers to wireless service providers and servicing equipment installed on the towers to support their clients’ wireless networks.
Commenced on February 27, 2020, the action arises from Crown Castle’s admittedly false accounting for the Company’s services business. Throughout the Class Period, Defendants repeatedly represented that the Company complied with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (“GAAP”) and affirmed the effectiveness of the Company’s internal control over financial reporting. In truth, Defendants were materially inflating Crown Castle’s financial results by prematurely recognizing revenue on certain service contracts involving permanent improvements.
The truth emerged on February 26, 2020, when the Company admitted it improperly recognized the entirety of the transaction price from its tower installation services as revenue upon the completion of the installation services. GAAP, however, mandates that portions of the transaction price – those associated with permanent improvements – be recognized on a ratable basis. As a result, net income in 2019 had been overstated by approximately $100 million, and its previous 2020 outlook for net income would need to be reduced by $90 million. In addition, the Company divulged it would restate its financials for 2016-2018, as well as for Q1 – Q3 2019. Finally, the Company revealed its internal control over financial reporting and disclosure controls and procedures were ineffective as of Dec. 31, 2019.
This news sent the price of Crown Castle shares sharply lower on Feb. 27, 2020.