Sky-high stock prices may be putting a slight chill in the market for global corporate matchups.
Big corporate courtships are famously complicated and can take years of negotiations, only to end with no deal at all being struck. But fresh data shows that lately, fewer companies have even announced plans to try getting hitched.
A new Mergermarket report this week showed an 11% drop in global mergers and acquisitions activity in the year’s first half from the same period of 2018.
That still meant a hefty $1.8 trillion worth of corporate tie-ups were officially put into action over the past six months. But that was also below the $2 trillion of activity kicked off during the second half 2018, one of the rarer periods over the past decade when stocks fell sharply lower.
“With markets being so strong there certainly hasn’t been that many bargains,” said John Carey, director of equity income at Amundi Pioneer, in an interview.
“Generally, companies are looking for opportunities to get other companies when there is a little bit of distress in the price,” Carey said.
The S&P 500 index
this week set three fresh all-time records, helped along by investor bets that more global monetary stimulus is on the dance card.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average
and Nasdaq Composite Index
on Friday also set new records.
The run-up in stocks may be great for investors, with those holding S&P 500 for the last ten years now up 200%, according to FactSet data.
But there also are signs that the longest bull market in Wall Street history is causing a shift in the way global corporations think about deal-making activities.
For one thing, the bulk of fresh M&A activity to emerge since January has been from “mega” deals between U.S.-based companies.
“Amid heightened geopolitical risks and rising protectionism globally, domestic M&A accounted for 67% of the overall activity in 1H19 compared with a yearly average of 61.3% since 2010,” according to the Mergermarket report.
Mergermarket uses “mega” to classify companies valued at more than $10 billion.
Topping the first-half “mega” deals” was United Technologies’s
plan to purchase military contractor Raytheon
Check out: United Technologies will acquire Raytheon
Meanwhile, another $98.3 billion of activity came from “demergers,” led by the split of DowDuPontInc.
from Dow Inc.
just a few years after they joined
And even United Technologies has said that it would conduct spin offs from the combined company in the first half of next year.
“The trend, rather than bulking up and diversifying, has been more toward breaking up and spinning out companies,” Carey said.