Having recently left her position as Senior Market Analyst for Wells Fargo Securities, Jennifer Fritzsche has quietly rested, regrouped, re-evaluated and, in another capacity, returned to the wireless infrastructure space. As a well known analyst and pundit on towers, Fritzsche took the time for an exclusive talk with Inside Towers.
Inside Towers (IT): So, Jennifer, can we call this an exit interview?
Jennifer Fritzsche (JF): I will say this as firmly as I can, this is NOT an exit interview! I am just shifting the lens through which I am looking at the communications infrastructure space.
IT: So you’re still in the game? Great to hear. What was behind your decision to leave Wells Fargo?
JF: It was such a tough decision to leave Wells – and ironically I resigned 25 years to the day I was hired at Wells….or predecessor firm they acquired along the way. During my time as a sell-side analyst, I used to listen to all my internal analyst colleagues speak about their respective areas of focus…energy, healthcare, retail, etc…. and think I won the lottery ticket of stock coverage. This space continues to be everchanging – which makes it all the more exciting.
But – as with everyone I guess these past few months have allowed time for much reflection. I always tell my children “Every day you need to do something physical, intellectual and spiritual.” I have three teenagers – so my guess is they don’t listen to me! But with 25 years in the same role – I thought it was time to stretch the “intellectual” part of my daily saying for me personally. Put another way – I needed to walk the walk. Like anything – I think if you are in any role too long there is the risk of getting too comfortable. And life is too short to do that. Wells Fargo prepared me in so many ways to make this move. I will be forever grateful for that platform and all the many people who supported me along the way.
IT: So we are all waiting with bated breath…sorry about that, by the way… to hear, what are you doing now?
JF: In my new role – I will be working deeply in one pillar of the communications infrastructure space: spectrum. Specifically, around the upcoming C-Band spectrum auction which I believe will be a critical lynchpin in 5G architecture. My thought was this was the perfect time to make this move given my 25th anniversary and a very blurry back-to-school picture for my kids this year. I am almost thinking of it as a professional sabbatical per se. Auctions have a finite life – so my plan as I sit here today is to get back to the “normal” work force in some way shape or form next Spring / Summer when, hopefully, the world looks a bit more sane. I don’t know what that role will be but I do know that it will be touching the communication infrastructure space in some way, shape or form. This space is way too exciting for me to leave.
IT: In the infrastructure space, what companies do you think are worth watching, whether they are publicly traded or not?
JF: In terms of companies to watch – I would continue to focus on the tower cos. The “publics” like AMT, SBAC and CCI will lead the way. I still believe the tower business may be the best business that ever existed…and remember I followed these stocks when they were each under $2 per share…sigh. They are each led by great CEOs who I think are each thinking outside of the box in a way that will serve them well in the next leg of their growth. But there are many private cos to watch as well. Names like APC, ExteNet, Insite, Tarpon, and TowerCo, Vapor IO and Vertical Bridge lead that list. I am really curious to watch the path of Marc Ganzi and his team at Colony. There is no deeper “ 5G tool box” than what he has accumulated under his umbrella. His assets touch every aspect of 5G infrastructure – fiber, small cell, towers and data centers. I believe we will continue to see more a blurring of lines between each of these infrastructure silos as the needs of the carriers become more complex. Ganzi is ahead of that trend. I would watch the data center world closely. My guess is it will take up a lot more of Inside Towers write ups! While many people think of this industry as more arm’s length from wireless – the world will become closer as 5G networks become more developed and the edge theme becomes a lot more real.
IT: So we’re doing some “forward looking,” as you analysts like to say, then…better days have to be ahead, right?
JF: While 2020 has been a “mulligan” of a year for so many reasons….I think the set-up for 2021 for the communications infrastructure space is incredibly robust. There have been so many lessons learned through COVID but one continuous underlying theme is that companies are using this crisis to “digitally pivot.” Stating the obvious, such a pivot cannot be made with some tangible decision made about the communication infrastructure to get there. So for the Inside Towers readers – there should be much excitement. There are many bright days ahead and I hope to be along for the ride in some way, shape or form!
By Jim Fryer Inside Towers Managing Editor