BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- Mergers and acquisitions -- better known in the industry as M&A -- aren't getting much attention right now. But they should be.Investors have been focused on their own portfolios in 2012, trying to figure out a market that rallied hard in the first few months of the year, only to become a lot more confusing in the next few. But while the news cycle has dominated investors' attention, M&A activity has quietly been perking up. In the second quarter, M&A deals weighed in at more than $510 billion -- a full 8% increase over the deals that got penned in the first quarter. >>5 Stocks Insiders Love Right Now But more significant than that, companies are finding that they can get deals on the cheap. The average buyout premium dropped to just 10.32% last quarter, the lowest quarterly incentive in more than a decade, and down from the 28.14% extra that firms had to pay investors to acquire their portfolio companies. In other words, it's a buyer's market out there for stocks - and corporate America agrees. Right now, companies are sitting on top of record cash reserves in a toxic interest rate environment. That's creating serious incentives for firms to part with some of that massive pile of cash if they want to keep shareholders happy. After all, in markets where fundamentals are being discounted, M&A actions can provide amazing value for purchasing firms' balance sheets. >>ACTIVE STOCK TRADERS: Check out Stockpickr's special offer for Real Money, headlined by Jim Cramer, now! For the most part, Wall Street hasn't been willing to concede the bargains that are presenting themselves right now, and as a result, firms that announce M&A deals are getting punished. That's creating a big buying opportunity for investors this summer. With that, let's take a look at five M&A deal stocks that you can buy at a bargain right now.
DellI'm not a big fan of the computer business. In the last decade and change, computers have gone from a breakneck growth industry to a commoditized business where manufacturers (save for Apple ( AAPL), of course) have to sacrifice margins for market share. That makes Dell ( DELL) the standard bearer of an undesirable industry. But acquisitions could be this PC-maker's salvation in 2012. Its most recent, the purchase of Quest Software ( QSFT), is a perfect example of what the company should be doing right now. Quest develops and supports software for enterprise systems management, selling its tools to IT departments the world over. Dell announced its intention to buy Quest last month, penning a $2.25 billion cash deal that represented a tiny 14.2% premium to QSFT's share price. >>4 Earnings Reports Bigger Than RIM's Quest gives Dell exposure to the software side of the enterprise market, an area that Dell has been pouring resources into over the last few years. With significant demand for enterprise infrastructure in the next few years, Dell's decision to embrace IT department needs over desktop users is going to be a good one for shareholders. Yes, the lion's share of Dell's sales still come from PC-sales, but as the more profitable server and storage business grows, building PCs will become less crucial. GAnd with a massive $11.4 billion net cash position, Dell needs to be putting its coffers to work to avoid seeing its accounts atrophy from negative real interest rates on the low-risk investments that corporate treasury management teams typically chase.
Energy Transfer Partners
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