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Will M&A Drive Stocks Higher?

Investors are wondering what will be the next catalyst to drive stocks. Can you say M&A, baby?

It seems everywhere you turn, headlines about M&A are stealing the spotlight. For example:

- Cisco announced two big acquisitions in two weeks: 1) wireless equipment maker Starent Networks (STAR.O) for $2.9 billion and 2) Norwegian video conferencing maker Tandberg for $3 billion.

- A new report from Irving Levin Associates shows a total of 233 mergers and acquisitions announced in the health care industry during the third quarter of 2009

- Strong quarterly results from JPMorgan were largely generated by the firm’s investment banking business (of which M&A is part). That more than offset losses from credit cards and mortgages.

Of course that's just anecdotal evidence. You can't really call something a trend without crunching the numbers. So we did.

U.S M&A Activity Picking Up

Value No. Of Deals

09 Jun $38.5B 636
09 Jul $30.6B 665
09 Aug $28.0B 507
09 Sep $52.1B 503
09 Oct* $15.5B 160
*Announced Deals Through Oct. 14
Source: Dealogic

What’s the trade?

Despite the passing of CEO Bruce Wasserstein, I like Lazard , says Guy Adami. And I’m also bullish on Blackstone and Greenhill – all these companies stand to benefit from increased M&A.

There was strong bullish options activity in Blackstone, adds Pete Najarian. And I, too, still like Lazard.

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Trader disclosure: On October 14, 2009, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders; Adami Owns (AGU), (BTU), (C), (GS), (INTC), (NUE): Grasso Owns (AAPL), (ABK), (ASTM), (BAC), (C), (COST), (CSCO), (PFE), (PRST), (V), (WMT): Seymour Owns (AAPL), (BAC), (BHP), (EEM), (FXI), (INTC), (TTM), (LVS): Pete Najarian Owns (BX) Calls: Pete Najarian Owns (DELL) Call Spread: Pete Najarian Owns (HOG) Nov. Call, Is Short (HOG) Oct. Calls: Pete Najarian Owns (XLF) Calls: Pete Najarian Owns (YHOO) Call Spread: Pete Najarian Owns (LAZ), (LAZ) Puts: Pete Najarian Owns (C) Calls

For Steve Grasso
Stuart Frankel And/Or Its Partners Own (AIZ)
Stuart Frankel And/Or Its Partners Own (CMCSK)
Stuart Frankel And/Or Its Partners Own (CUBA)
Stuart Frankel And/Or Its Partners Own (GERN)
Stuart Frankel And/Or Its Partners Own (HSPO)
Stuart Frankel And/Or Its Partners Own (MSFT)
Stuart Frankel And/Or Its Partners Own (NWS.A)
Stuart Frankel And/Or Its Partners Own (NXST)
Stuart Frankel And/Or Its Partners Own (NYX)
Stuart Frankel And/Or Its Partners Own (PDE)
Stuart Frankel And/Or Its Partners Own (PRST)
Stuart Frankel And/Or Its Partners Own (RDC)
Stuart Frankel And/Or Its Partners Own (ROK)
Stuart Frankel And/Or Its Partners Own (TLM)
Stuart Frankel And/Or Its Partners Own (XOM)
Stuart Frankel And/Or Its Partners Own (XRX)
Stuart Frankel And/Or Its Partners Own (SDS)
Stuart Frankel And/Or Its Partners Is Short (QQQQ)
Stuart Frankel And/Or Its Partners Is Short (CL)

For Jon Najarian:
Jon Najarian Owns (GS)
Jon Najarian Owns (BAC) Preferreds

For Mark Mahaney
Citigroup Global Markets Or Affiliates Owns 1% Or More Of (YHOO), (PCLN), (NFLX), (AKAM)
Citigroup Global Markets Or Affiliate Received Non-Investment Banking
Compensation From (GOOG), (YHOO), (EXPE) In Past 12 Months
(GOOG), (YHOO), (EXPE) Are Or In Past 12 Months Were Clients Of Citigroup
Global Markets (Non-Investment Banking, Non-Securities Related)
(GOOG), (YHOO) Are Or In Past 12 Months Were Clients Of Citigroup Global Markets (Non-Investment-Banking, Securities-Related)
Citigroup Global Markets Is A Market Maker In (OPEN), (GOOG), (YHOO), (AMZN), (PCLN), (NFLX), (EXPE), (AKAM)
Citigroup Global Markets And/Or Affiliates Has A Significant Financial Interest In Relation To (GOOG), (YHOO), (EXPE)
Citigroup Global Markets Or Affiliates Owns 2% Or More Of (YHOO)

For Louis Navellier
Funds Managed By Navellier Own (IBM)
Funds Managed By Navellier Own (VMI)

Symbol
Price
 
Change
%Change
BX
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GHL
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LAZ
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