BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- Mergers and acquisitions -- better known in the industry as M&A -- aren't getting much attention right now. But they should be.
Investors have been focused on their own portfolios in 2012, trying to figure out a market that rallied hard in the first few months of the year, only to become a lot more confusing in the next few. But while the news cycle has dominated investors' attention, M&A activity has quietly been perking up. In the second quarter, M&A deals weighed in at more than $510 billion -- a full 8% increase over the deals that got penned in the first quarter.
But more significant than that, companies are finding that they can get deals on the cheap. The average buyout premium dropped to just 10.32% last quarter, the lowest quarterly incentive in more than a decade, and down from the 28.14% extra that firms had to pay investors to acquire their portfolio companies.In other words, it's a buyer's market out there for stocks - and corporate America agrees. Right now, companies are sitting on top of record cash reserves in a toxic interest rate environment. That's creating serious incentives for firms to part with some of that massive pile of cash if they want to keep shareholders happy. After all, in markets where fundamentals are being discounted, M&A actions can provide amazing value for purchasing firms' balance sheets. >>ACTIVE STOCK TRADERS: Check out Stockpickr's special offer for Real Money, headlined by Jim Cramer, now! For the most part, Wall Street hasn't been willing to concede the bargains that are presenting themselves right now, and as a result, firms that announce M&A deals are getting punished. That's creating a big buying opportunity for investors this summer. With that, let's take a look at five M&A deal stocks that you can buy at a bargain right now.