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Stocks for the Next M&A Wave

FreightCar America (RAIL) is one interesting company that shows up on the list. Right now, the company is trading at just 3.3x the cash produced by the business. The company manufactures, sells and leases railcars for hauling commodities such as coal, iron and steel. The company also makes car carriers used to transport automobiles by train to the marketplace.

Rail traffic has been sluggish this year, and it looks as though far less grain will be shipped in the late summer and early fall as well. This naturally makes railroads less enthusiastic about ordering new freight cars. The company has no debt and about half the share price in cash, so it should be able to navigate the turbulent waters of a weak economy. With a market cap of just $223 million, it would be an interesting target for a patient buyer who believes in the future of U.S. economy.

A few tech companies on the list appear to be reasonable takeover candidates. Semiconductor capital equipment company Kulicke & Soffa (KLIC) trades at just 4.2x free cash flow and has more than 40% of the share price in net cash. The data-storage concern STEC (STEC) trades for less than 5x free cash and has more than half the share price in cash right now. Computer peripherals and consumer electronics distributor Tech Data (TECD) has more than 20% of its stock price in cash and fetches 4x free cash flow. Technology is usually one of the more active sectors for merger activity, so it is worth doing more investigation on these stocks. Keep in mind that this all raw screen output. If any of these stocks catch your eyes, you need to do the homework and make sure the stocks are really attractive candidates with solid financials. Screening is just a starting point. The best reason for a strategic acquisition is to buy revenue and earnings growth for a reasonable price. Tomorrow we will look for companies that can help achieve that goal for potential buyers.

At the time of publication, Melvin had no positions in stocks mentioned.

Tim Melvin is a writer from Stevensville, Maryland, who spent 20 years a stockbroker, the last 15 as a Vice President of Investments with a regional firm in the Mid Atlantic area. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Melvin appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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