Keeping us connected

As a company that doesn’t directly serve the general public, SBA Communications might be called the quiet giant of the South Florida business scene even thought it’s on the S&P 500.

If you aren’t familiar with SBA, the subject of this issue’s cover story, it owns and operates more than 32,000 wireless communications sites in 14 countries across three continents. It employs approximately 1,500 people and in 2019 produced over $2 billion of revenue.

SBA is one of Florida’s 10 largest public companies by market capitalization, recently $35.14 billion. Since its initial public offering, SBA has produced compound annualized shareholder returns of 18 percent.

In these days of social distancing, SFBW conducted a “Virtual CEO Connect” feature with CEO Jeffrey Stoops, which is available online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tOrQfTuBFQ.

The ride hasn’t always been a smooth one for SBA. Stoops tells how company leaders filled a $10 million gap when investment bankers couldn’t quite get things done. Hint: It’s a great story about adversity, turned into great fortune. The company also saw shares sink to 19 cents during the Telecom bust of 2002 and Stoops told how the company took steps to ensure its survival as Wall Street debt vultures were circling.

How far has SBA come? Recently, it was trading at $300.59, rebounding sharply after hitting $220.54 during the COVID-19 stock market plunge.

One reason for the positive outlook is the telecom tower business is poised for a boom amid the introduction of 5G, the T-Mobile/Sprint merger and the emergence of Dish as a major wireless player. SBA is classified by Wall Street as a real estate investment trust with lease payments flowing from its telecom customers. Wayne Huizenga rented dumpsters. Jeff Stoops basically rents cell tower space.

Even as the economy struggles, it’s great to see businesses moving ahead during the recession, which is somewhat of a theme this issue.

Shares of FlexShopper took a dip, but were rebounding as this issue was going to print. It’s added a lot of technology and partnerships to the old concept of rent-to-own. Consumers can be turned down for credit at a retailer and use FlexShopper’s app to still make a purchase.

Treo Group is an example of a developer that’s continuing to move ahead amid the pandemic. It’s getting ever closer to finishing Regatta Harbour in Coconut Grove and building a student housing project along Metrorail.

If you are nervous about your portfolio, it might be time to talk to Sherri Daniels or one of the advisers at SlateStone Wealth. As co-founder and CEO, Daniels entered the wealth field when it was rare to find women and has played key leadership roles at some of the biggest advisory firms in South Florida. Now, she’s running her own shop.

SlateStone has a comprehensive model that really digs deep into what clients really want to achieve. The result is a high degree of customization. Daniels is also a great advocate for women who want to enter the field of wealth.

Shortly before this edition was going to press, the nation witnessed the heartbreaking death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. It’s a time for dialogue and seeing what we can all do to help. Please visit sfbwmag.com to read about the good work at Big Brothers and Sisters and a thought-provoking teach-in held by the University of Miami Law School.

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