Cramer's Call: Qwest Chairman & CEO Dick Notebaert

“When everyone doubted, I believed,” Cramer says of Qwest Communications International and its chairman and CEO, Dick Notebaert. Notebaert was instrumental in turning the company around after the insider-trading scandal involving former CEO Joseph Nacchio left the telecom outfit in disgrace. But the new chief admits there’s still work to do.

“I don’t think you ever get done working on your reputation,” Notebaert told Cramer on today’s show, “but we’ve come a long way.”

The talk this week of wireless provider Alltel being bought out raised question about whether smaller companies will survive in this space. Do Verizon, Sprint and AT&T have to buy up everything? Cramer wanted to know. “I don’t think everything’s got to be bought,” Notebaert says, “but there’s no doubt there’s going to be more consolidation in our sector.” The CEO thinks that smaller companies are going to face some tough competition, though, especially as VoIP proliferates.

Telecom isn’t a fast-growing industry anymore, Cramer claims, but Notebaert says the bulk of Qwest’s growth going forward isn’t going to be in its mass markets, but in the company’s business group instead, which covers the entire U.S.

And don’t expect Notebaert to retire any time soon. He already tried that back in 2000, and it didn’t work. “I made it eight months,” Notebaert says, “my wife threw me out.”

If you don’t own this stock, consider it your best speculation, Cramer says.

Questions? Comments?