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Who's the Next Alltel?

Now that Verizon Wireless has acquired Alltel, who’s next to get snatched up?

That’s the question Wall Street’s asking, hoping to cash in on another big deal, but Cramer said Thursday there might be a better opportunity.

Before the buyout goes through, the Justice Department will most likely force Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone , to divest some of its business that overlaps with Alltel . The usual suspects – Qwest, Sprint Nextel, AT&T – for any number of reasons, just aren’t in position to take advantage of the opportunity. So that leaves an opening for a smaller company like Windstream to step up.

Windstream was formed back in 2006 when Alltel, with the goal of becoming a pure wireless play, merged its wireline business with Valor Communications. The new company serves as a “rural local exchange carrier,” bringing regular phone service to some of the most rustic parts of the U.S. These RLEC’s are slow-growth, high-yield stocks – think Embarq, Iowa Telecommunications, Citizens Communications or Consolidated Communications – but the leftovers from VW-Alltel deal give Windstream the chance to be much more.

When you add some healthy wireless business to the company’s portfolio, Cramer said, WIN becomes a growth stock. Windstream might even then become the very regional telco Wall Street’s searching so hard for right now – the next Alltel.

If Windstream doesn’t make the moves Cramer expects, there’s always the dividend yield – 7.6% – for a steady stream of income.

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