All the businesses in this industry have a high PE ratio: WIN=31.31, FTR=29.03, T=27.01, VZ=90.62. And most of these businesses have a large amount of debt. It comes with the territory because of the dividends. I understand wanting to avoid the industry but it's foolish to think CTL is the only one with those problems. At least CTL is post-dividend cut (all of them need to or needed to cut their dividend) and CTL is using that money to buy back shares.
Lincoln's Einstein theory-CenturyTel's 22 billion acquisition of Quest at 6.02 per share was bought at a 15% premium. They assumed 11.8 billion in debt and got 10 billion in stock. Do the math. Their whole market cap today is 22 billion. Hmmmmmmmmm-You don't need an MBA to see that this does not pencil out.