Invest in America: AT&T
The following is an unofficial and edited transcript from Thursday's "Mad Money."
This is not a market where you can find many stocks that will let you sleep soundly at night, but there are some American companies that will be able to make it through the recession meat grinder without being torn to pieces, with earnings intact or even stronger, and most important, with stocks that have incredible yields, way better than you could get from cash or treasuries because of the declines, and AT&T is one of the best, that's why it's tonight's 'Invest in America' stock.
Right now, AT&T has a 6% yield, and analysts expect the company to raise its annual dividend payout by at least 6 cents a year on December, bringing the dividend to $1.66, and with that dividend it currently yields, 6.2%. And while AT&T isn't totally recession resistant, it's got 74.9 million wireless subscribers, 57.2 million switched access line subscribes, 14.8 million broadband connections and 3 million video connections-and Cramer does not see people canceling their cell-phone coverage or internet access because the economy's slowing, those things have become necessities.
Now AT&T sold off 8% back on October 22nd after it reported its third quarter and missed on earnings by 4 cents, but 2 cents of that shortfall came from hurricane-related costs, and 10 cents came from Apple iPhone dilution -- AT&T sold too many iPhones -- and because they subsidize the iPhone more heavily than other smart phones -- the iPhone gets a $380 subsidy, compared to the average $180 subsidy of most smart phones.
That ate into the company's margins and profitability for the quarter, but they'll make it back over time because now they've got subscribers hooked. It was a good quarter though, with revenues up 4%, beating the street's consensus, 2 million net additional wireless subscribers, 2.4 million iPhone activations -- 40% of which came from new AT&T customers.
People expected iPhone sales to hurt other smart phones, but in the third quarter that didn't happen: AT&T's same store customer traffic was actually up 15% year over year.
AT&T's also got RIMM's Blackberry Bold, released on November 4, and with the Bold, together with the iPhone, some analysts predict they can drive 45 cents of earnings growth over the next three years. The company's U-Verse program -- similar to Verizon's FiOS, is growing quickly too, with a million subscribers, or 10% market penetration in less than 12 months.
AT&T is a survivor, it's a share taker, it has a tremendous yield. The one note of caution here is that in a market this ugly, the stock could see its 52-week low of $20.90 again, where it will be even more attractive, sporting a 7.6% yield.
Also, AT&T just paid up for Centennial communications this week, a wireless company in the Midwest, the southeast and Puerto Rico, and Cramer want to make sure it wasn't too expensive.
Those are the thoughts and concerns Jim shares before bringing on his special guest for the night, Randall Stephenson, AT&T CEO. Watch the interview to see how the wireless titan's chief executive responds to Cramer's questions.