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Cramer's Cell-Phone Comrades

Thursday, 28 Feb 2008 | 8:01 PM ET
Cramer's International Calls
Looking for cellular service providers in the former communist countries, with Mad Money host Jim Cramer.

George Bush in a press conference Thursday urged the next American president to get to know his, or her, new Russian counterpart, citing the need for a strong relationship with Moscow. On Mad Money, Cramer urged viewers to get to know Russian stocks, citing the potential for some pretty hefty profits.

Cramer was talking about Russian telecoms to be exact. All week he’s highlighted the best wireless providers in the Second and Third Worlds. The markets there are still so underpenetrated the room to grow far exceeds that of the U.S. And when companies grow, so do their stocks.

American firms like AT&T , Verizon and the beleaguered Sprint Nextel are playing a zero sum game. The market here’s oversaturated. Everyone who wants a cell phone has one. So each company has to capture the customers of another in order to grow. But that’s not the case overseas.

Cramer’s Russian faves, Mobile Telesystems and Vimpelcom, are booming for three reasons: The 90% of Russians using pre-paid accounts are moving to the post-paid kind we prefer here. Post-paid accounts encourage increased usage and they’re more profitable for MBT and VIP.

Lastly, there’s subscriber growth to be had in CIS, the Commonwealth of Independent States. These are former U.S.S.R. countries that gained their independence. Wireless penetration there is only around 45%, giving MBT and VIP plenty of opportunity to expand.

If forced to choose between the two telcos, Cramer leans toward MBT for its market share in Moscow, the higher dividend yield and better value. And with the Russian market down 300 points from its high, Homegamers have a great chance to buy in.

Now that Cramer’s made the introduction, just how friendly you get with your new comrades is up to you.

Questions for Cramer? madmoney@cnbc.com

Questions, comments, suggestions for the Mad Money website? madcap@cnbc.com

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