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Equinix Inc(EQIX-Q)

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This Top Stock Has the Longest Growth Streak in the S&P 500

Motley Fool - Sat Feb 18, 8:19AM CST

Equinix(NASDAQ: EQIX) recently hit a milestone. The data center operator delivered its 80th consecutive quarter of revenue growth. According to Equinix, that two-decade-long streak is the longest of any company in the S&P 500.

The data center real estate investment trust (REIT) expects that streak to continue. Here's a look at what's powering the company's consistent growth.

Another year of steady growth

Equinix recently reported its fourth-quarter and full-year results. The data center company recorded $1.871 billion of revenue during Q4. That was up 2% from Q3 and 10% above the prior-year period. It also exceeded the high end of the company's guidance range.

That pushed the company's full-year revenue up over $7 billion, 9% above 2021's total. Meanwhile, it produced $2.74 billion, or $29.55 per share, of adjusted funds from operations (AFFO). That was up 11% overall and 9% on a per-share basis. This growing cash flow gave Equinix the confidence to increase its dividend by another 10%. The company has grown its payout every year since it converted to a REIT in 2015.

Strong demand for data center solutions continues to drive the company's growth. It closed 17,000 deals across more than 6,000 customers last year. Q4 marked its seventh straight quarter of record channel bookings. These deals are enabling the REIT to lease existing capacity in its data centers and invest in expanding its capacity.

The company is also benefiting from acquisitions. Last year, Equinix closed its $320 million acquisition of MainOne, entering the African market. Equinix also expanded into Chile and Peru, spending $705 million to buy four data centers from Entel.

More growth ahead

Equinix expects to continue growing in 2023 and beyond. CEO Charles Meyers noted in the earnings press release that International Data Corporation (IDC) expects "digital technology spend to grow eight times faster than the broader economy in 2023." That's driving demand for the digital infrastructure and solutions that Equinix provides.

This outlook helps drive the company's forecast that revenue will grow 12% to 14% this year. Meanwhile, it sees AFFO growing by 6% to 9% (4% to 7% on a per-share basis). Foreign exchange fluctuations continue to be a headwind for the company. Equinix noted that revenue would have grown 14% to 15%, and adjusted FFO would have increased 9% to 12% (8% to 10% per share) if currencies remained constant.

The company continues to build the foundation for future growth. It has recently approved several new data center expansion projects, giving it the capacity to continue signing new deals. It most recently unveiled plans to build a new data center in Barcelona. That follows recent announcements to enter South Africa with a $160 million data center investment and Malaysia with a $40 million data center investment. Overall, the company has 49 major builds underway across 35 markets.

Those expansion projects provide lots of visibility into its future growth since Equinix typically signs leases for some capacity before construction begins. For example, Colt Technology Services signed on as the first customer for its new site in Barcelona. The data center space puts Colt in a strong position to drive its next growth wave. Projects like that also help drive a steady stream of revenue growth for Equinix.

In addition to expansion projects, Equinix maintains a strong balance sheet, giving it the flexibility to continue making acquisitions as opportunities arise. The company has a long history of making accretive deals that help push its top line higher while contributing to bottom-line growth.

A top-notch growth stock

Equinix's steadily growing revenue has paid big dividends for investors over the years. The REIT has delivered a more-than 30% annualized total return over the last 20 years, triple that of the S&P 500. With more growth ahead, Equinix is an excellent stock for investors seeking steady growth.

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Matthew DiLallo has positions in Equinix. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Equinix. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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