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 can 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
Here's a shortcut to decipher the good deals from the deal breakers. We'll see how the 65,000 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 is not, we might expect one set of investors to come out ahead, since those ratings forecast investor sentiment of future prospects.

Could troubles in the capital markets finally be taking a toll in the M&A arena? Deals won't stop, but with the loss of easy credit expect to see more stock swaps play a role in financing transactions. Here's a handful of some recently announced deals with the CAPS community's ratings for the players involved, on its scale of one to the maximum five stars:

Target

CAPS Rating

Acquirer

CAPS Rating

Deal Price

Navteq (NYSE:NVT)

*****

Nokia (NYSE:NOK)

*****

$8.1 billion

OmniSource

NR

Steel Dynamics (NASDAQ:STLD)

*****

$885 million

ViaCell (NASDAQ:VIAC)

**

Perkin Elmer (NYSE:PKI)

***

$300 million

Boston Stock Exchange

NR

Nasdaq (NASDAQ:NDAQ)

*****

$61 million

CAPS ratings courtesy of Motley Fool CAPS; NR = not rated.

While merger activity has slowed -- according to Dealogic global merger activity is expected to fall 30% in September -- there's still enough action for investors. The deal tracker also reports there have been more than $13.3 trillion worth of deals made since 2004, making it the richest three-year stretch since the tech boom at the turn of the century.

Getting the information flow
And what do CAPS investors think about these targets and acquirers? While these deals might not be bigger than some we've seen in past weeks, the companies generally are well liked with most of the publicly traded companies garnering five-star ratings from investors. In fact, the biggest buy, of mapmaker Navteq, will join two top-rated companies into one.

Finding its way to a merger
The Finnish cell-phone maker's purchase of Navteq looks like an expensive bid to support the expensive handset it released earlier this year, the N95. In August Nokia unveiled its Internet services suite called Ovi, which includes its N-Gage games and music store. "Location-based services are one of the cornerstones of Nokia's Internet services strategy," says CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, and the Navteq buy will help make Nokia more than just a manufacturer of cell phones.

Yet they will have to compete with Garmin (NASDAQ:GRMN) which just released a low-cost version of its software that can turn almost any smartphone into a GPS device. Navteq, of course, is the map supplier to Garmin, so might this end up being Olli's Folly?

Certainly, Navteq is a prize. Many CAPS investors have noted the extensive contracts Navteq enjoys with some of the most important names in mapping. stevemustangred is one who has.

Both Mapquest and Google Maps use Navteq map data. That seems like easy money anytime someone with internet access needs a map. Add to that the new contracts that Navteq is consistently announcing. Assuming '07 to '08 earning growth is conservative at 40% the projections for '08 to '09 are in the 90% range. Need to keep one eye on the PE because it could become overvalued as more Fools buy this company.

saurabh95 believes the acquisition will be what Nokia needs to separate itself from the likes of Apple and Research in Motion.

NVT acquisition is going to a key differentiator in the crowded smartphone market. This was necessary to compete against the potential threats from iPhone/gPhone/windows mobile/RIMM.

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? Only at Motley Fool CAPS is your opinion as valuable as the pros. Tell the CAPS community whether the urge to merge is good to go -- or to fight for independence.

Navteq is a former recommendation of Motley Fool Stock Advisor. Find your way to a 30-day, risk-free trial is available by clicking here, giving you full access to all the market-beating recommendations. Nasdaq is a recommendation of Motley Fool Inside Value.

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.