From tiny acquisitions to massive conglomerate combinations, the urge to merge on Wall Street remains strong. How can we tell the dealmakers from the dealbreakers?

Breaking down the buildup
To help, we'll turn to the 130,000-plus investors in Motley Fool CAPS. A combination of two companies with high CAPS ratings should bode well for the new company'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 offers, and the ratings for each participating company on CAPS' five-star scale:

Acquirer

CAPS Rating (Out of 5)

Target

CAPS Rating

Deal Price

Takeda Pharmaceutical

NR

IDM Pharma

NR

$66.7 million

Alpha Natural Resources (NYSE:ANR)

****

Foundation Coal (NYSE:FCL)

***

$1.4 billion

Mill Road Capital

NR

Kona Grill

*****

$29.9 million

Validus (NYSE:VR)

*****

IPC Holdings (NASDAQ:IPCR)

***

$1.7 billion

Interactive Intelligence (NASDAQ:ININ)

*****

AcroSoft

NR

undisclosed

Texas Instruments (NYSE:TXN)

****

Luminary Micro

NR

undisclosed

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

Into it deep
From prey to predator, Alpha Natural Resources and its pursuit of Foundation Coal represents a 180-degree U-turn from last year, when Alpha was locked up in an acquisition bid by Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF) -- which had even changed its name in anticipation of the merger.

Alpha's own buyout aspirations will make it a serious contender as a thermal coal player, just as many anticipate that the economies of the world will begin to break free from their recessionary shell. In a recovery, Alpha's existing metallurgical coal footprint will enable it to supply the world's steel furnaces -- which have gone cold in the recession -- while Foundation's thermal coal supply will electrify Alpha's ability to supply coal for power generation. According to the World Coal Institute, 41% of the world's electricity production is fueled by coal.

Where investors such as CAPS member Relic666 felt back in February that coal had staying power even during the dark days of the stock's decline, lloyd70mb predicted back in January that a catalyst -- such as the recent increase in oil prices to near $60 a barrel -- would generate sufficient power to light up Alpha's stock.

A real gem. I look for this to be a multi-bagger this year. Currently trading in the 12-14% range of last years high. I expect this stock to take off as oil [increases] in price this spring. [ANR] also has low long term debt and a favorable cash basis.

Calling out growth
Listed last year as one of Fortune "Small Business 100" fastest-growing businesses, Interactive Intelligence believes that while its customers remain cautious about the immediate future, its ability to grow remains intact. It has almost $50 million sitting in cash and short-term investments, and no debt on its balance sheet. Better yet, the AcroSoft acquisition supplements its existing base of insurance company customers, where the Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation believes it already has strong vertical integration.

CAPS member EnigmaDude figured that in the current climate, with businesses trying to save money, being able to incorporate many different capabilities into a single software suite could lead to huge growth opportunities: "Adding back before the earnings report. This is one company that I think has serious growth potential this year as businesses look to cut costs and streamline operations."

A value-added offer
What's your take on these deals? Let us know on Motley Fool CAPS. And while 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. There's more at CAPS than you might think.

Interactive Intelligence is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey has no financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.