Despite choppy U.S. financial markets and a looming fed rate hike, corporate execs are still wheeling and dealing to create shareholder value. According to a Thursday, April 16th article from FactSet Insight, U.S. M&A activity was up notably in March, moving up a solid 5.1% with 998 announcements relative to 950 in February. FactSet also highlighted that aggregate M&A spending (total deal value) was up 65.2% in March compared to February.

M&A Activity

Largest deals announced in March 2015

The FactSet article pointed out that the biggest deals announced in the month of March included:

  1. H.J. Heinz agreeing to acquire Kraft Foods for $45.8 billion
  2. AbbVie entering an agreement to acquire Pharmacyclics, Inc. for $19.9 billion
  3. OptumRx (owned by UnitedHealth Group) agreeing to acquire Catamaran Corp. for more than $12.8 billion
  4. NXP Semiconductors NV’s agreement to buy Freescale Semiconductor Ltd. for $11.1 billion
  5. Charter Communications’ agreement to acquire Bright House Networks from Advance Publications for $10.6 billion

Analysis of quarterly M&A activity

M&A Activity

According to FactSet data, the sectors with the largest increases in M&A activity over the last quarter, compared to the same three month period one year ago, are:

  1. Technology Services (524 compared to 409)
  2. Finance (379 compared to 361)
  3. Consumer Services (241 compared to 228)
  4. Consumer Non-Durables (90 compared to 78)
  5. Distribution Services (153 compared to 142).

Also of interest, 12 of the 21 sectors tracked by FactSet saw an increase in deal flow over the quarter compared to the same three months a year ago.

M&A Activity

Not all sectors, however, saw more M&A activity. The sectors with the largest decreases in M&A deal activity over the last quarter, compared to the same three month period one year ago, are:

  1. Industrial Services (100 compared to 137)
  2. Commercial Services (493 compared to 513)
  3. Producer Manufacturing (172 compared to 186)
  4. Consumer Durables (36 compared to 48)
  5. Electronic Technology (120 compared to 131)
  6. Health Services (137 compared to 148).

Last but not least, nine of the 21 sectors tracked by FactSet suffered a decrease in deal flow over the last three months compared to the same three months one year prior, adding up to a total loss of 116 deals for the quarter.