This column was originally published on RealMoney on Oct. 30 at 9:43 a.m. EST. It's being republished as a bonus for TheStreet.com readers.
In 2002 we were concerned about
ability to survive. I am not kidding; land-line losses, wireless competition, no hope against cable, plus big pension expenses all told us that this company could be a goner. We were concerned about its dividend -- even though it was boosting it -- and the stock traded to $27.
Now it sits at $39, and it's going higher because almost all of those problems are behind them. It is true that land-line losses are still horrendous. And it is true that the company has to spend a fortune -- $22 billion to revitalize its whole system to make it carry video. We still don't see much of a payoff -- yet -- from that spend.
But there's without a doubt a huge gain here in wireless. Just like
, Verizon wireless is kicking butt.
And that's the key to the story.
You have to understand that for years wireless was simply a bad business -- too many players, too much cutthroat competition, too many companies determined to win, instead of accepting a benign oligopoly. The giveaway of the equipment, the spend needed to stay competitive, these were all ruinous.
Not any more. Now you have really terrific sales and very good profits from these businesses for Cingular and Verizon. What happened? I believe that the consolidation and ridding of price-cutters AT&T wireless and Nextel helped. I also believe that
might be falling apart, despite its rally, which is based on takeover not fundamentals. And I believe that
giving up, even though it would never say that.
So you have, basically, two players -- Cingular and Verizon Wireless -- and they are
That's why you get this great Verizon quarter -- nothing else. That's why it is prepared to go higher. We have winners and a pleasant duopoly between
What a comeback!
You've gotta watch this video. I spoke on Wednesday to the Directorship 2006 Corporate Boardroom Forum in New York City about bad boards of directors and the impact they have on the markets. Just
and spend a little time learning about good corporate governance.
At the time of publication, Cramer had no positions in stocks mentioned.
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