In today's head-to-head matchup, we've got two drugmakers that are ripe for a takeover target. Clinical Data (Nasdaq: CLDA) is farther along in the development process than Amarin (Nasdaq: AMRN), but don't think that gives it an advantage in the takeover-prospects department.

Let's take a look at some qualities that pharmaceutical giants look for in potential takeout targets to see which one is more appetizing.

Focused drugmakers
Valuing multiple moving parts can be difficult, and the cleaner an acquisition is, the better.

By that metric, Amarin has the advantage since it's completely focused on its fish oil drug, AMR101, while Clinical Data has a bit deeper of a pipeline beyond its recently approved depression drug, Viibryd.

But the advantage is minimal. Most of the value of Clinical Data is tied up in Viibryd, which still makes it a prime target to be taken over. Management has even admitted so, although it's going ahead with the launch in case a suitor doesn't appear.

Potential market
The market for AMR101 is fairly straightforward. GlaxoSmithKline's (NYSE: GSK) prescription-grade fish oil drug, Lovaza, brought in $590 million in the first half of last year and doesn't seem to have as good of an efficacy profile as AMR101. Blockbuster potential doesn't seem too far-fetched.

The potential market for Viibryd is larger than AMR101. Multiple drugs -- Forest Labs' (NYSE: FRX) Lexapro and Eli Lilly's (NYSE: LLY) Cymbalta -- that treat depression are multibillion-dollar drugs. But therein lies the problem: Viibryd will have to compete against those drugs and cheap generic versions of Pfizer's (NYSE: PFE) Zoloft and Lilly's Prozac.

Whether a pharmaceutical company thinks it can launch Viibryd and make it a multi-billion drug remains to be seen.

Risk/reward
Ultimately, it all comes down to cost and how much risk a potential buyer is willing to shoulder and whether it's justified by the cost.

AMR101 looked good in its first phase 3 trial, but it still has one more phase 3 trial -- and a Food and Drug Administration review -- left to go. Viibryd is already approved, so there's essentially no clinical risk. Of the two, Amarin is clearly more risky in terms of a suitor knowing what they're getting.

The biggest risk for Clinical Data is getting Viibryd prescribed and paid for -- half of the battle these days. All that competition will make it tough, although some drugmaker might feel up to the task.

The two have remarkably similar valuations, coming in right around $875 million for market caps. The relative risk and market potential balance each other out, and both seem fairly valued to me.

Which one?
I'm inclined to go with Amarin. At this point, a potential suitor might just wait until the results of its second phase 3 trial are released in the second quarter before buying. It'll be more expensive, but it reduces the risk for the suitor -- a welcomed commodity to the pharma industry these days. If no suitor comes along, Amarin is prepared to submit its marketing application this year.

My main reason for shunning Clinical Data is because I'm not convinced of the market potential of Viibryd. I'm willing to concede that some large pharma might come in a buy Clinical Data for a 50% premium, but you can't buy based on that alone. Savient Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: SVNT) put itself up for sale, but no pharmaceutical company was interested enough to pull the trigger. Yes, Clinical Data is cheap if Viibryd is a billion-dollar or more drug, but some sales force -- be it Clinical Data's or a new owner's -- needs to show that the drug has that kind of potential before I'm willing to invest.

Pfizer is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. GlaxoSmithKline is a Motley Fool Global Gains choice. The Fool owns shares of GlaxoSmithKline. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors

Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.