Strategic buyers are back in the M&A game with a will to win, reports assistant managing editor Anthony Noto in this issue's cover story, Strategic Strength. Take a look at the recent track record of Ametek (NYSE: AME). The Berwyn, Pennsylvania-based maker of electronic instruments has closed five deals in 2014 and expects to do more, says William Eginton, senior vice president of corporate development. Growing confidence in the U.S. economy is contributing to the increase in activity. Another active strategic acquirer is Teleflex Inc. (Watch the video with Monster, below.)

The third quarter of the year delivered a lot of encouraging developments for dealmakers, as you'll see in this issue's Wrap Up story, M&A Rose in Q3. The first nine months of the year yielded 1,721 completed middle-market transactions, the second-highest deal volume for the January-through-September period in five years, according to Thomson Reuters. Total deal value was $230.3 billion, the highest for the period in five years. More good news came from initial public offerings. Buoyed by September's record-breaking $22 billion public debut of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA), the third quarter raised $37 billion, the highest since the fourth quarter of 1999, according to Renaissance Capital. 

Despite the good news, mergers and acquisitions activity slowed at the end of the third quarter. September produced just 156 completed deals, compared with 202 in August and 231 in July. In this issue's installment of our Mid-Market M&A Conditions Index (MACI), sponsored by PwC, the Composite score dropped to 53.8, the lowest since we launched the MACI in October 2013. And although M&A practitioners predicted growth in this issue's spotlighted sector, manufacturing, their expectations weren't as high as they were earlier in the year, according to our Mid-Market Pulse (MMP), a forward-looking sentiment indicator published in partnership with McGladrey LLP.

Subscribe Now

Complete access to real-time information and analysis of news and trends in the industry.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.

Corrected October 31, 2014 at 11:29AM: 3845710883001