NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- On Tuesday TheStreet wrote about the companies that made crisis-time acquisitions leading to growth opportunities, if they aren't already paying dividends. But some companies haven't had the luxury to go shopping in the crisis and instead have been using ventures and business line fire sales to stabilize bleeding operations. At first glance, it looks as if the S&P 500 Index at 1236 points has barely changed since the Friday before Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008, but many of the biggest sectors like financials, energy and autos have been completely upended by the turmoil in markets. Plummeting sales, consumer confidence and -- most critically -- cash turned some companies into desperate sellers as they focused others on growth opportunities.
While some giants like Wachovia, Merrill Lynch, General Motors ( GM) CIT Group ( CIT) and recently MF Global either went bankrupt or fell into the arms of a last ditch buyer, others used a flurry of asset sales and piles of government money to weather the Great Recession. TheStreet did a screen for the biggest sellers since the crisis and picked a few survivors, using Bloomberg data. To be seen is whether disposals will be a lost opportunity for years to come, or if the sales create a blank slate that will set the stage for future growth. We found the five most frequent sellers and offer our thoughts on what it means for their prospects.