NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- When markets ground to a halt three years ago some businesses pulled their investments or folded. But others saw the crisis as a long term growth opportunity. While markets can turn to from bull to a bear on a dime, data shows that those who continued to make acquisitions during the crisis have bolstered their businesses and, sometimes, share prices.
Since the crisis, Warren Buffett's led the way in takeovers - even if some have failed.
Though the S&P 500 Index is literally exactly where it was the Friday before Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008 -- at 1251 points --the earnings from the continuing operations of companies within the composite index are now 20% greater over that time frame, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. For companies looking for earnings growth, the data is a simple signal that even if stock prices, unemployment and GDP cast a cloud on our economic outlook, companies bold enough to invest through the uncertainty of the past few years may reap gains, if they haven't already. TheStreet did a screen of the most acquisitive companies since the crisis and picked a few big investing winners, using Bloomberg data. While some companies like Pfizer ( PFE) did one-off mega mergers like its $60 billion plus Wyeth buyout, we focused on the companies who went to the deal well with frequency to drum up growth during tight times.