By most yardsticks, 2014 was a great year for middle-market M&A. In the U.S. middle market, the year yielded a total deal value of $315.3 billion, the highest since 2007. To measure completed deals, we use data provided by Thomson Reuters. But to gain insight into the early stages of deal flow and the expected future, Mergers & Acquisitions uses original research.

Mergers & Acquisitions and SourceMedia's research team created two custom-made barometers: the Mid-Market M&A Conditions Index (MACI); and the Mid-Market Pulse (MMP). Based on monthly surveys with approximately 250 responses from dealmakers, these important indices have helped us track middle-market M&A closely since activity began to pick up at the end of 2013. The results appear monthly online and in every issue of the magazine.

The MACI, published in partnership with PwC, offers insight on month-to-month deal flow and includes early-stage components, such as Leads and Signed Letters. We field the survey in the middle of the month, giving us an early look at where the market is headed. For example, in December, weeks before the data was available for completed deals, we could see from the MACI that the month was not yielding the end-of-the-year boost dealmakers have come to expect.

The MMP, published in partnership with McGladrey LLP, offers a forward-looking sentiment indicator and focuses each month on one of six high-growth sectors. In this issue, we're featuring the technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) sector. According to the MMP, TMT came in second place, ahead of manufacturing, energy and consumer goods and retail but behind health care in the 3-month time-frame and behind the financial services, insurance, and real estate (FIRE) sector in the 12-month view. Cloud computing, data analytics, mobile devices and e-commerce are among the underlying advancements fueling M&A in TMT.

Our monthly polls also allow us to ask questions of our audience on a regular basis. In December, survey participants said they expect the momentum in middle-market M&A to continue in 2015, with a whopping 70 percent predicting deal flow will be even better than last year.

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