By David Henry
STINGIER OFFERS. So far, investors like what they're seeing. SBC shares held their own as news leaked that it was looking to buy AT&T. MetLife stock slipped just a half of 1 percent when it said it was buying Travelers. And when Johnson & Johnson (JNJ ) said on Dec. 16 that it was paying $25 billion for medical-device maker Guidant (GDT ), its shares rose 4%.
The big reason investors aren't hammering buyers' stocks: Most acquirers have become cautious about not overpaying. Gone are the the 30% to 40% premiums regularly paid in the past, much less the 50%-plus premiums that were common in 1999 and 2000. SBC offered AT&T virtually no premium over its market price, while Exelon (EXC ) paid just a 16% premium for Public Service Enterprise Group (