Whether it's small "tuck in" acquisitions, large megamergers between industry giants, or even taking significant stakes in another company, the urge to merge remains strong.

We can't always tell the good deals from the bad. While we might get "synergy," we could just as easily get what investing legend Peter Lynch called "de-worse-ification:" weakening an existing business's core competency by grafting on wildly unrelated subsidiaries.

Breaking down the buildup
We're going to take a shortcut to decipher the good deals from the deal breakers. We'll see how the more than 70,000 investors in the Motley Fool CAPS universe rate the companies hooking up. If two highly rated companies seek a better life together, we figure they might also do better down the road. Conversely, if one company is highly rated and the other low, we might expect one set of investors to come out ahead.

Could troubles in the capital markets finally be taking their toll in the M&A arena? While deals won't stop, the loss of easy credit means we're likely to see stock swaps playing a larger role in financing transactions.

Here's a handful of the recently announced deals, and the CAPS community's ratings for the players involved, on its scale of one to five stars:

Acquirer

CAPS Rating

Target

CAPS Rating

Deal Price

Celldex Therapeutics

NR

Avant Immunotherapeutics (NASDAQ:AVAN)

NR

$147 million

Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO)

*****

Navini Networks

NR

$330 million

Nike (NYSE:NKE)

****

Umbro

NR

$582 million

ADC Telecommunications (NASDAQ:ADCT)

***

LGC Wireless

NR

$169 million

Cognizant Technology (NASDAQ:CTSH)

*****

marketRx

NR

$135 million

Galenica Group

NR

Aspreva Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ASPV)

*****

$915 million

Calumet Specialty Products (NASDAQ:CLMT)

****

Penreco

NR

$240 million

NR = not rated.

While merger activity has slowed to a relative trickle, with only $192 billion in deals being consummated in September, the first nine months of 2007 have still been the busiest ever. According to Thomson Financial, for the year to date ending Sept. 30, more than $3.6 trillion in deals were made, just surpassing the figure for all of 2006 and nearly double 2004's hectic pace. Dealogic reports there has been more than $13 trillion worth of deals made since 2004, making it the richest since the tech boom at the turn of the century.

Getting the information flow
So what do CAPS investors think about these targets and acquirers? While these deals are not particularly large, just as we've seen in recent weeks, the companies are well liked, with most of the publicly traded companies garnering four or five stars.

Going to the WiMAX
Changing from its previous wait-and-see attitude, Internet hardware provider Cisco is swooping into the WiMAX field and scooping up start-up Navini Networks. This should give it a leg up in introducing the technology, particularly overseas, where the U.N. recently endorsed WiMAX as an alternative to the 3G broadband data services.

More than 4,300 players have rated Cisco, with 95% of them viewing it as an outperform. CAPS All-Stars, those players with the best investing records, are even more positive about its future, with 99% of those who weighed in giving it an outperform endorsement. It's the next-generation advances that have Radioman101 seeing a profitable future for the tech giant.

Even with the wildly oscillating market I think it is safe to say that some parts of tech are back. And one of those parts is networking. Cisco delivered great numbers for [the] last quarter. Great revenue growth, read the conference call transcript. They are buying back stock. They are pumping more money into R&D for next generation hardware. There is more Internet build-out on the horizon and these guys are positioned to take advantage of it.

That and the potential of the WiMAX industry have other CAPS players looking to Cisco to be a leader. faroutpicks writes:

Cisco is finally gaining momentum and is looking at WiMax. It has the cash to buy its way into this communications market. If it moves into the 4G space, its customer base will be huge.

A value-added offer
What's your take on these deals? Should investors accept the cash or take stock in the new company if offered? Tell the CAPS community whether the urge to merge is good to go or would it be better to fight for independence.

Calumet Specialty Products is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Play with all the stock picks free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey does not have a financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.