From tiny acquisitions to massive conglomerate combinations, Wall Street's urge to merge remains strong. How can we tell the dealmakers from the deal breakers?

Breaking down the buildup
To help, we'll turn to the 125,000-plus investors in Motley Fool CAPS. A combination of two companies with high CAPS ratings should bode well for the new firm's future results, while a high-rated company that joins a lower-rated one may benefit one set of investors more than the other.

Despite troubles in the capital markets, the deals won't stop; they simply might involve more stock and less cash. Here are a handful of recently announced deals, and the ratings for each participating company on CAPS' five-star scale:


CAPS Rating


CAPS Rating

Deal Price

JLL Partners


PharmaNet Development Group


$100 million

Insituform Technologies (NASDAQ:INSU)


Bayou and Corrpro


$216 million for both

Ticketmaster (NASDAQ:TKTM)


Live Nation (NYSE:LYV)



Emergency Medical Services


Air ambulance business of American Medical Response





Iron and potash assets of Rio Tinto (NYSE:RTP)


$1.6 billion



Genentech (NYSE:DNA)


$42.1 billion

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

Digging out from under debt
The large amounts of debt currently staggering Rio Tinto have given Vale a prime chance to bolster its own programs by snapping up Rio's castoffs. Yet even with this sale, Rio Tinto has some $10 billion worth of debt coming due this year, leaving some analysts wondering whether the company can pay it all off. The larger stake Aluminum Corp of China (NYSE:ACH) has taken in Rio Tinto may not be enough to cover the looming obligation.

CAPS member Futuresmart thinks Vale's varied interests and sought-after products will protect it from any prolonged slump:

Vale is a producer and exporter of iron ore and pellets. The Company also produces nickel, copper, manganese, ferroalloys, bauxite, precious metals, cobalt, kaolin, potash and other products. These are items that will always be required and Vale is a major player. Now at a fraction of its height, but already on the return path.

Cheaper medicine
Ouch! That's gotta hurt. Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche let Genentech shareholders know that it was still very much interested in their biotech – just not quite as interested as when it made its last bid. That's what Genentech gets for calling Roche's original offer, made last July at $89 a share, "too low." The new bid cuts that offer to $86.50 a share, launching a new, hostile attempt to gain control of the 44% of Genentech that Roche doesn't already own.

CAPS member Lituus has a clear vision of Genentech's future: "Will be bought by Roche for AT LEAST $86 a share this year and if not they have a very promising pipeline."

That's not quite the way shawnd777 sees it. He considers the biotech overpriced right now, arguing that it needs to drop about 25% to truly enter value territory: "Great company but the PE vs. growth rate is high at 1.5. Price to book at 5.5 and price to sales ratio of 6.4 are high relative to other drug stocks and especially in this depressed market."

If the deal with Roche falls through, shawnd777 may very well get a price closer to his desired level.

A value-added offer
What's your take on these deals? Let us know on Motley Fool CAPS. While you're there, you can start your own research on these or other stocks. Read a company's financial reports, scrutinize key data and charts, and examine the comments your fellow investors have made, all from a stock's CAPS page.

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. Try any of our Foolish newsletters services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.