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Let's Play M&A Bingo

Let's face it. There's never been a better time for consolidation than now. When the IPO pipeline needs a plumber, the M&A patch catches fire. Sky-high cyber-valuations that once put offline snails to shame have come home to roost. But these blue-light specials won't last. While Internet stocks are dirt-cheap, it's time for old school to go shopping.

It's prime time for brick-and-mortar businesses to quit their teeth gnashing and break out the pocketbook. Now's the chance for a little payback. Remember all those snooty CEOs that hit the airwaves on CNBC following their umpteenth IPO moonshot?

C'mon. You remember. For Pete's sake, the fellows hardly wore a decent dress shirt to gloat. Millionaires traded in the "M" for a "B," and you resented sharing Forbes Richest List with a guy who wore Birkenstocks to work.

When Steve Ballmer came on like gangbusters proclaiming tech stocks to be grossly overvalued, he didn't fool anybody. Microsoft has more cash on hand than most banks. Throw a scare into armchair investors, watch valuations plummet, and cash-wealthy Microsoft's left standing to pick through the bones. Careful what you wish for, Steve.

So the other day, I stumbled upon a nice piece of fan mail from a reader of mine who wondered aloud whether I might be able to provide a little forward looking analysis on the merger and acquisition front. That got me thinking. Sounds fair enough. After all, I can always consult my magic eight ball if the need should arise.

So, I rolled up my sleeves and resolved to take a dash of speculative fun, add one heaping teaspoon of M&A activity, combined with a healthy dose of entertainment value. Shake well. Stir. Serve over ice.

Voila. My recipe for M&A Bingo.

For those of you already familiar with smoky backroom bingo parlors, you'll still need to give my modified set of rules a look-see below. And of course, I encourage you to play along at home.