Google, Yahoo!: Tech's Top Deal Hunters

NEW YORK -- ( TheStreet) -- In case tech mergers needed a little nudge, some analysts have crafted a matchmaking list of likely linkup targets and potential suitors.

Sensing that current valuations, growth ambitions and a ready supply of cash have now combined for some hot M&A chemistry, Collins Stewart analyst Sandeep Aggarwal has prepared a scouting report of Internet companies in the deal arena.

On one side you have the big would-be buyers. On the other, there is a host of smaller players. The big fish are Amazon ( AMZN), eBay ( EBAY), Google ( GOOG), Microsoft ( MSFT) and Yahoo! ( YHOO), according to Aggarwal.

"All of the top five-largest Internet companies will likely be acquisitive during the remainder of 2009 and 2010, with Yahoo and Google leading the pack," Aggarwal writes Wednesday.

The leading takeout candidates, however, are private shops, putting the possible feeding frenzy outside the stock market's reach, at least until an IPO date.

Outfits like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Meebo, Zillow and eHarmony are among the top names on Aggarwal's list. Three public companies -- Web metrics specialist ComScore ( SCOR), online ad maker ValueClick ( VCLK) and IT marketing shop TechTarget ( TTGT) -- made Aggarwal's roster.

Presumably, for the merger minded, the strategic prize lies in the expansive opportunity that the Internet still represents.

"With the evolving needs in the Internet, the largest Internet companies are taking advantage by acquiring -- top talent, killer applications, geographical/category focused companies, or companies operating in newer categories," writes Aggarwal.

Recent deals this summer would roughly fit that description. Earlier this month, Adobe ( ADBE) made a surprising $1.8 billion bid for Web traffic monitoring firm Omniture ( OMTR).

Other deals include Nokia's ( NOK) pickup of social networker Plum, Amazon's acquisition of shoe retailer Zappos, and private equity firm Apax' offer to buy Bankrate ( RATE).

While some of the prospective deals like Google and mobile ad networker Jumptap or Yahoo! and Web dating service eHarmony would seem to make sense, the chemistry still has to be right.

The Adobe deal for Omniture, for example, came out of left field. And Bankrate's fate with a private-equity shop certainly wasn't obvious beforehand. The point is that theoretical matchmaking can be fun, but it doesn't necessarily make it happen.

-- Written by Scott Moritz in New York

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