Part of the reason Con-Ed got that rate hike is its terrific management. Its CEO, Kevin Burke, is a long-time utility executive who knows the in-and-outs of the regulatory regime. Unlike other utilities, Con-Ed's earnings are far less vulnerable to the possibility of climate change legislation like cap-and-trade, as it stopped burning coal decades ago and has in fact sold most of its electric generation business. Rather Con-Ed is focused on the most basic of utility businesses, transmitting and distributing, electricity, natural gas and steam to its customers.3. AT&T (T - Get Report) (T): Along with Verizon (VZ) (which could just as easily have been on this list as it's just as good as a company and a stock, but AT&T won the coin toss) AT&T is dominating the wireless space, and paying you a 6.4% yield to watch it happen. We all know the iPhone has been a big winner for the company, bringing over new customers, who are paying for a more expensive, high-speed data plan. AT&T's U-verse television offering has also quickly reached 1 million subscribers, though both of these growth drivers are somewhat offset by the loss of traditional landlines, once the company's bread and butter. This isn't your old Ma Bell, but a super high tech company that is at the cutting edge of all things communications. Despite the losses in the plain old-fashioned telephone business, wireless customers are spending more per user than ever. And through cost cutting, the company's operating margin has been steadily climbing.
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