With market meltdown, which tech firms become predator or prey?

Smart companies will hunt for good merger and acquisition opportunities, with stocks at multiyear lows. Here are the ones to watch.

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Predators, continued

Apple Inc.

Symbol: AAPL

Market cap: $78B

Cash and short-term investments: $20.8B

Apple has reportedly bought 10 companies in its 32-year history.

Apple's vertical business model guarantees that it never buys to gain market share, but only to acquire technology from start-ups such as processor designer P.A. Semi Inc. that it can easily digest.

On the other hand, if anyone can handle an acquisition right now, Steve Jobs' Apple could. Apple is very profitable. And it ranks just behind Microsoft in terms of cash on hand for a buyout.

Perhaps Jobs should reconsider the Apple-Sun merger that almost happened three times -- except this time, Apple would be the buyer, not Sun.


Symbol: SAP

Market cap: $43B

Cash and short-term investments: $3.2B

German enterprise software giant SAP also appears unlikely to be interested in the mergers and acquisitions game. Apart from last year's $6.8 billion acquisition of Business Objects SA, SAP is best known for conservative, organic growth. It also has the least cash of any vendor on this list.

Matt Hamblen contributed to this story.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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