Cramer: These 2 storied telecom empires are striking back

  • "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer says earnings reports from Verizon and AT&T suggest things are looking up for the telecom giants in a big way.
  • Though they may not live up to T-Mobile's growth, the two may be back in Cramer's good graces, he says.
  • T-Mobile CEO John Legere knocks his competitors, but Cramer says they might be regaining traction faster than he thinks.

After Verizon and AT&T topped Wall Street's earnings estimates with their second-quarter results, Jim Cramer wondered if there might be more steam ahead for the telecom giants.

"Are the empires striking back?" the "Mad Money" host asked.

Verizon's earnings beat was driven in part by the addition of 614,000 wireless, post-paid subscribers, up from a 307,000-subscriber decline last quarter. Cramer pointed out that the company's "churn," or how many customers leave it for other carriers, was markedly low.

"This represents a pretty incredible 90-day turnaround for the telco titan," Cramer said.

AT&T's earnings also showed a record-low level of churn on top of 2.3 million added users, beating expectations as the company awaits regulatory approval to merge with Time Warner.

Cramer added that AT&T's smoothly executed acquisition of DirecTV, cost controls and historically high margins were also worth noting as areas of improvement.

"These are huge comebacks for two staid, old competitors that had started to seem like whipping boys for John Legere, the brash CEO of T-Mobile," the "Mad Money" host said.

The un-carrier's second-quarter earnings report did blow investors away, with its 817,000 post-paid subscriber additions coming in at more than double the Street's estimates.

Moreover, T-Mobile's earnings were clearly better than those of Verizon and AT&T, so much so that on his conference call, Legere suggested his main rivals may be "dumb and dumber."

"OK, they may still be dumber than T-Mobile, but what I find intriguing is that if both AT&T and Verizon are in growth mode here, then their stocks might be better buys than T-Mobile at this level unless the un-carrier catches a takeover bid," Cramer said.

He did, however, agree with the idea behind Legere's tweet to him on Wednesday:

Even after shares of AT&T rallied post-earnings, Cramer argued the stock was still cheap, especially considering its 5 percent yield.

Cramer said that Verizon's 4.89 percent yield is also attractive, mainly because the company is likely able to boost its dividend after its strong second quarter.

"I think the reason T-mobile's stock didn't fly on that better-than-expected quarter when they reported is that the empires of the old world are striking back. Now, AT&T and Verizon aren't un-carriers; they aren't cool in any way, shape or form. But as investments? They're beginning to be, let's say, among the best and their stocks are open for business for everyone who needs income and not just the capital appreciation that I think T-Mobile will continue to give you," Cramer said.

T-Mobile's Legere struck back in his own way in an emailed response to Cramer's commentary sent to CNBC.

"If this is what it looks like for Verizon and AT&T to 'strike back,' I say keep it up!" the CEO wrote. "It works for me… we took double the post-paid phone nets of Verizon while AT&T lost 132 [thousand] this quarter! At the same time, we just announced our 13th consecutive quarter of [year over year] service revenue growth while both Verizon and AT&T posted declines [year over year] for 10 and 13 consecutive quarters respectively. #stilldumbandumber"

Watch the full segment: Cramer's take on telecom

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