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In the early part of this decade, Corning Inc. treasurer Mark Rogus spent a good portion of his time trawling through the balance sheets of acquisition targets in the technology sector to get a fix on their liquidity and cash flow. Today, not so much. Other than government-driven mergers and acquisitions in the automotive and banking industries, M&A transactions are few and far between. Most mirror Kraft’s recent overture to unwilling prospect candymaker Cadbury. Yet Corning and other companies are whetting their appetites for the return of M&A, which the lessened volatility in the stock market seems to promise. Stability equals an ability to get a clearer sense of what companies are really worth, from the standpoint of both the buyer and the seller.

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