BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- It's a buyer's market out there for stocks -- and corporate America agrees.

Companies are voicing their opinions by fueling one of the biggest merger-and-acquisition sprees since corporate cash was at all-time highs last year. The $19 billion in buyout money announced in the last week certainly helps August stack up as a massive month for corporate acquisitions even in spite of (or maybe because of) the selling we've seen this month.

There's a reason why Wall Street pays attention to mergers and acquisitions (better known as M&A). For starters, deals generally represent large, immediate gains for companies being bought up. And in markets where fundamentals are being discounted, M&A actions can provide amazing value for purchasing firms' balance sheets.

Related: 5 Rocket Stocks to Buy in This Turbulent Market

When new deals are announced, stocks move quickly. Even so, don't think that you've missed out on the M&A game just because stocks have already made their immediate surges. This week, we're taking a look at a handful of Wall Street's higher-profile deals to figure out where investors still stand to cash in on some meaningful value.

After all, these acquiring firms are likely to be getting a bargain right now.


Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Of the high-profile deals on the horizon, none's more significant than AT&T's ( T - Get Report) planned $39 billion buyout of T-Mobile's U.S. wireless carrier business. AT&T is already the biggest wireless carrier in the country (when Vodafone's ( VOD) stake in Verizon's ( VZ) cell business is backed out), and the acquisition would make AT&T an even more formidable contender in an incredibly competitive business.

For investors, there's plenty of reason to want in on this action. AT&T has seen its share price get battered in recent months as uncertainty over the deal and hand wringing over the firm's loss of iPhone exclusivity bring out the weak hands in this stock. Because of that, AT&T is currently the highest-yielding stock in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, quite a feat.

The impact of the iPhone is largely overblown in my view. The device was transformational for AT&T's business, bringing out considerable margin growth as data customers ballooned - but the customer exodus Wall Street analysts expected has yet to show itself. Legacy businesses (such as wired phones and directories) provide some dependable revenues for AT&T's bottom line, but they're hardly a reason to look at this stock anymore.

Instead, focus on the tremendous value offered by shares -- even if the merger falls through, this stock is looking cheap at current levels. Regulatory approval is the final hurdle for a marriage between the carriers.

AT&T is one of the top holdings of George Soros' Soros Fund Management, which increased its position in the stock by about 7% in the second quarter. It was also featured recently in " Low-Volatility Stocks for a Volatile Market."

Duke Energy

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Duke Energy ( DUK - Get Report) is a regulated utility holding company that's built its business on providing regulated energy (electricity and natural gas) to consumers in the U.S. The firm also owns power generation assets that span from the Midwest to Latin America. Duke's pending $25.5 billion purchase of Progress Energy ( PGN) would make the combined firm the largest regulated utility provider in the U.S.

Like its peers in the utility business, Duke's revenues are predictable and generate impressive net margins -- two factors that fuel the impressive 5.47% dividend yield that the company is currently paying on shares. Not surprisingly, Progress carries those same characteristics.

Duke's getting a solid deal on the transaction -- the firm is acquiring a large utility firm that enviable large cash flow generation and a service region that's very complementary to Duke's own footprint. Better yet, Duke's only paying a 6% premium over pre-announcement prices on the Progress deal, the smallest premium of any acquirer on this list.

As with AT&T, the Progress energy acquisition is contingent on regulatory approval -- and at present, it looks like the move will go through without too many speed bumps. Even so, Duke's current share price looks cheap just given the stock's dividend; value increases that much more once the merger is complete.

Duke, one of TheStreet Ratings' top-rated electric utility stocks, is also one of the highest-yielding electric utilities..


Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

The hottest M&A news this week is Google's ( GOOG - Get Report) planned $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility Holdings ( MMI - Get Report), the communications arm that split off from Motorola Solutions ( MSI) back at the beginning of the year. Ironically, it was the earnings drag that the mobile phone business was creating that prompted the business split-up -- now Google's looking to tuck in Motorola Mobility to its burgeoning phone business.

Google's move to buy one of the biggest mobile phone makers is a strategic way to protect the market share of its popular Android operating system. By controlling at least some of the hardware that runs Android, the firm is able to limit its dependence on OEMs to carry its OS, and bring the product directly to consumers -- it's a strategy that top competitor Apple ( AAPL) has employed from the get-go, and now it's trickling down to the Googleplex. The purchase also has implications in the string of IP lawsuits that Google's mobile phone customers have been waging.

Google's purchase of Motorola Mobility is far less transformational to its business than the M&A activity in Duke or AT&T. As a result, Google played a bit more fast and loose with its offer, giving a 73% premium that rocketed MMI to a massive valuation.

Frankly, Google is probably overpaying for the purchase, but the benefits to the Android platform are probably going to be far outweighed by any extra cash paid out this year. The upside prospects are considerably more important to Google than the cash is right now.

David Tepper's Appaloosa Management initiated a new position in Google in the second quarter. The stock shows up on a recent list of 9 Stocks That Resisted the S&P Downgrade and was highlighted in " 5 Confident Stocks for a Shaky Market."


Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Another utility name making M&A news is Excelon ( EXC - Get Report). Back in April, Exelon announced its plans to merge with Constellation Energy ( CEG), a Baltimore-based energy producer, trader, and regulated utility (and coincidentally, the parent of my power company). The deal will make a combined entity with massive generation capabilities, a large commodity trading arm, and of course, a sizable regulated utility business.

That's an attractive combination of operations that benefit from the outsized growth potential of an energy generation and trading business and the consistent cash flow of a regulated utility.

Rising energy costs are a benefit for Exelon, not because the firm can collect more cash (in areas where the firm's utilities are regulated, EXC's rates are capped), but because 80% of its operating capacity is made up of nuclear energy -- a mode of generation whose costs are completely decoupled from fossil fuel prices.

While that generation mix would change significantly following a merger (Constellation sold its nuclear assets to French power company EDF at the height of the 2008 financial crisis), but not enough to completely erode those benefits. The bid to acquire Constellation represented a 16% premium over the firm's pre-offer price. That means that Constellation shareholders are getting an attractive deal in an otherwise unattractive market, and Exelon is getting a good value for the longer-term. Investors should take note.

>>Practice your stock trading strategies and win cash in our stock game.

Johnson & Johnson

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Health care giant Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ - Get Report) isn't being left out of the M&A scuffle. The firm's $19.4 billion buyout bid for shares of Swiss medical device maker Synthes Holding will put the world's largest orthopedic corporation under the Johnson & Johnson umbrella; its DePuy subsidiary is merging with Synthes.

Johnson & Johnson should already look attractive to investors right now. The $176 billion firm offers exposure to the recession-resistant health care business, manufacturing medical devices and pharmaceuticals as well as a deep portfolio of attractive consumer brands like Band-Aid and Tylenol. Couple that with JNJ's 3.54% dividend yield, and a rare AAA credit rating, and you've got a blue chip that shouldn't be ignored in this tumultuous market.

The Synthes acquisition should make a meaningful change to one of JNJ's most profitable business segments, and investors of this behemoth company shouldn't underestimate the positive implications of what seems like a nuanced deal. As Johnson & Johnson cements its number-one position as a medical device maker, the firm stands to boost its already impressive double-digit net margins. This company's track record of returning value to shareholders is reason enough to justify buying shares of this stock.

Johnson & Johnson is one of the top holdings of Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway maintained its 42.6 million-share position in the company in the second quarter. It shows up on recent lists of 5 Stocks With Ample Free Cash Flow and 10 Top Stocks From S&P Equity.

To see these M&A plays in action, check out the M&A portfolio on Stockpickr.

-- Written by Jonas Elmerraji in Baltimore.


Follow Stockpickr on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

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

Jonas Elmerraji is the editor and portfolio manager of the Rhino Stock Report, a free investment advisory that returned 15% in 2008. He is a contributor to numerous financial outlets, including Forbes and Investopedia, and has been featured in Investor's Business Daily, in Consumer's Digest and on