3 Big Investing Risks Revealed by the Honeywell - United Technologies Merger Collapse

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Honeywell's stock actually dropped in response to the news! It only rebounded on March 1, when Cote put out a press release, titled appropriately, "Honeywell No Longer Pursuing Combination With United Technologies."

If you had bought Honeywell right after the merger was announced, and things hadn't gotten called off so fast, you could have lost a bundle, or worse, had your money tied up in an unprofitable investment for a long road to recovery. Interestingly, United Technologies' stock has retained most of the gains it made while the merger was still on the table, highlighting the fact that you never can predict with certainty how a stock will perform.

Pitfall #3: Even done deals can get undone

In his rebuttal to Honeywell's offer, Hayes pointed to regulatory hurdles as the primary reason for rejecting Honeywell's proposal. And he's right: U.S. regulators have recently frowned on mergers or acquisitions that would result in dominant U.S. market shares.

This means that even a deal that's been accepted by both parties can still fall through. General Electric's failed attempt to sell its appliances division to Electrolux is one recent high-profile example.

The ongoing struggle of Halliburton to buy rival Baker Hughes is another excellent case study. Although the merger hasn't been completely nixed -- at least, not yet -- the government has been holding it up for over a year, demanding more and more concessions from Halliburton. Meanwhile, both stocks have dropped. If the deal is eventually approved, the stocks may recover somewhat...but there are no guarantees.

In the case of Honeywell and United Technologies, their customers Boeing and Airbus immediately objected to the deal, and it's almost certain that regulators would have forced the combined company to sell off some of its aerospace assets. There was no way to tell how many or how few of those assets would need to be sold, but given the size of the companies' aerospace businesses, the requirement probably would have been substantial. This affects the investment thesis in a big way, but sometimes these details don't emerge for weeks or months after a merger announcement, making an immediate buy very risky.

The Foolish bottom line

In a perfect shareholders' world, every proposed merger would occur leaving both companies stronger. However, this ain't a perfect world. Mergers, acquisitions, and asset sales routinely fall through, or are denied by regulators, or succeed only to have disastrous results.

Before you buy on news of a pending transaction like this, be sure you understand the risks. Ask yourself if you would be willing to buy the stock even if the deal doesn't pan out, because sometimes, that's exactly what ends up happening.

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The article 3 Big Investing Risks Revealed by the Honeywell - United Technologies Merger Collapse originally appeared on

John Bromels has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Halliburton. The Motley Fool owns shares of General Electric Company. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days . We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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