Piper Jaffray & Co. (NYSE: PJC) more than doubled deal volume and value in 2014, outpacing competitors in a robust year for dealmaking. The investment bank set itself up well for growth by making two acquisitions in the previous year.

"The credit markets were favorable, and the U.S. economy was on reasonably firm footing, and that is a big driver of activity," says Piper Jaffray CEO Andrew Duff. "It leads to CEO confidence. If you're going to undertake an acquisition, you have to be pretty confident about your existing business."

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