NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of AT&T (T) - Get Report and Time Warner (TWX) were retreating in Monday morning trading as AT&T's proposed $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner will likely be heavily scrutinized by regulators.
AT&T is claiming that because the merger is a vertical integration, it shouldn't be as contentious as horizontal mergers that often hinder competition.
"They're using very traditional methods, and I totally understand that. That's what a lot of lawyers have done in these deals," TheStreet's Jim Cramer said on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" this morning. "I would be more concerned about the things lawyers don't seem to understand, which is the tenor of the times."
Cramer explained that the Justice Department has become much more populist, and the American people have become wary of big mergers.
This weekend's comments by Donald Trump claiming that he would never approve the merger if elected president have intensified populist rhetoric and a wariness of concentrated power, Cramer claimed.
"The American people have had it," he noted. "The Justice Department - as much as we may respect the Justice Department - responds to what the American people think."
But AT&T's basic business is being challenged as T-Mobile (TMUS) and Sprint (S) take market share, pressuring it to make a deal.
If AT&T is pursuing content to get a higher price from advertisers, though, it will face strong competition from the likes of Facebook (FB), Amazon.com (AMZN), Alphabet (GOOGL) and even Snapchat parent company Snap, Cramer mentioned.
"They recognize in the older generation that they've got to do something - whatever it takes," Cramer said. "They're kind of in the whatever it takes mode. And Facebook is in the take share from them mode."
"If I were an AT&T shareholder, I think it's a very easy call. I would sell; there's no reason to buy," Cramer contended. "The dividend is not that great."
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Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates the stock as a "buy" with a ratings score of B.
AT&T's strengths such as its robust revenue growth, increase in net income, good cash flow from operations, expanding profit margins and solid stock price performance outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated.
You can view the full analysis from the report here: T
TheStreet Ratings objectively rated this stock according to its "risk-adjusted" total return prospect over a 12-month investment horizon. Not based on the news in any given day, the rating may differ from Jim Cramer's view or that of this article's author.