By Hilary Kramer, InvestorPlace.com

NEW YORK ( InvestorPlace ) -- After a number of high profile buyouts and mergers in 2010, including Intel-McAfee and HP-Palm among others, it's very likely that cash-rich blue chips will see an M&A buying spree again as we enter a New Year.

If you're looking for the best stocks to buy in order to cash in on this craze, you can take a gamble on some small-caps that are likely buyout targets ... or you can take a sure thing in an M&A powerhouse, Evercore Partners ( EVR).

If you've never heard of EVR, you're not alone. Evercore is an emerging powerhouse on Wall Street that specializes in three of the highest-margin businesses in the entire corporate spectrum: mergers & acquisitions (M&A), restructuring (bankruptcy work) and asset management. And while this stock never makes a lot of headlines, it is a power player behind the scenes. I expect the big driver in 2011 to be its work in M&A, which produces substantial revenue for this financial firm.

Here are three big reasons that Evercore could break out in 2011 and why investors should expect a surge of merger activity:

Mergers and Acquisition Biz on the Move: Legendary CEO Ralph Schlosstein is one of the greatest dealmakers in the history of Wall Street. He has made Evercore the go-to player for advising companies on large deals, and the M&A market is red hot. There was certainly a lot of activity in 2010, and Evercore grew this part of its business eightfold in the past year. That's not chump change.
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  • Companies Back in Growth Mode: For the past several years, companies hunkered down to survive the financial crisis and recession. Confidence is clearly returning, but economic growth remains sluggish with unemployment so high. That makes it tougher to grow a business organically, so more and more companies are looking to buy growth.

    With corporations sitting on record levels of cash, the money is there to do it. A recent study from Thomson Reuters and Freeman Consulting Services concluded that the global market for M&A will surge 36% in 2011 to over $3 trillion. Evercore is the real game changer here and should be one of the biggest beneficiaries of all that deal making.
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  • More Growth Strategies At Work: In addition to the exploding M&A work, the Evercore has growth strategies in place for all of its divisions: EVR is growing its revenue-producing banking team to by expanding their restructuring practice. They expect 53 senior managing directors by 2011, double the 2007 number. There's also Geographic expansion in the work, and I expect cross-border M&A to be especially strong in 2011. That will be more opportunities to better support new and existing clients.

    Early in the fourth quarter, Evercore completed its 50% acquisition of Brazil investment banking boutique G5 advisors, increasing the company's reach into one of the world's largest economies. Evercore has also partnered with Protego seeking investment opportunities in Mexico.

    To top it off, earnings at EVR are expected to grow 77% in 2011, which makes the stock attractively valued right now. Its current P/E (for the last 12 months) is nearly 100X, which looks scary, doesn't it? But based on expected earnings in 2011, the P/E drops dramatically to only 19X.

    Buy EVR anytime you can get it under $33.50. I'd be shocked if the stock doesn't move to at least $40 in 2011, but in truth, I think there's a good chance it goes higher.

    Read my complete recommendation of why Evercore (EVR) stock is a buy , and check out the 9 other FREE stock picks that make up InvestorPlace.com's Top 10 Stocks for 2011.

    As of this writing, Hilary Kramer was recommending Evercore to her paid newsletter subscribers.
    This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.