Over the past five years, AT&T only managed to grow earnings at 1% per year. You got to collect a 5% or 6% dividend along the way, which was a nice offset, but ultimately core business was not keeping up with inflation. This was due to three things: (1) the company was losing lucrative landline customers at a fast rate; (2) Verizon Wireless was making market share gains in the mobile space; and (3) the company was investing heavily into Mexican infrastructure that had a payoff several years down the line. This slow growth explains why the quarterly dividend has only grown by a penny per share during each year since 2007.
Between 1964 and 1987, almost eight hundred cases made it to various Courts of Appeals throughout the United States that sought to hold tobacco companies liable for damages resulting from smoking. The tobacco lawyers protected the interests of Philip Morris USA, Brown & Williamson, R.J. Reynolds, and Lorillard by raising Rule 8 affirmative defenses of contributory negligence and assumption of the risk–arguing that tobacco consumers had a duty not to smoke if they wanted to protect their health, and they abandoned this responsibility by willingly smoking despite knowledge of the health hazards.