March 17, 2008: 2:52 PM EDT
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What you can buy with $240 million

A company like Ebix or Microtune, a fraction of Facebook - or all of storied Wall Street firm Bear Stearns.

By Scott Moritz, writer

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NEW YORK (Fortune) -- Call it shrewd, opportunistic even absurd, but JPMorgan was able to scoop up financially crippled Bear Stearns for $2 a share, putting a $240 million price tag on the deal.

To put that value in context, here's a look at other companies or deals that fetch the same price.

For exactly the same money, JPMorgan (JPM, Fortune 500) could have purchased regional bank Great Southern Bancorp (GSBC) of Springfield, Mo. Or Ebix (EBIX), an Atlanta insurance software shop with a market cap of $240 million.

Or maybe the big bank could have acted on some sound opportunity outside the finance sector, in music with an acquisition of Microtune (TUNE) a Plano, Texas audio chipmaker -- market cap: $240 million.

However, JPMorgan couldn't own its own coffee shop holdings for $240 million. That amount would not cover a purchase of Peet's Coffee (PEET), which trades around $279 million.

As game-changing as it is for Bear Stearns, in some circles, $240 million can go almost unnoticed. Last year, for example, Qualcomm quietly booked a $240 million loss from its wireless TV venture MediaFlo.

Let's say JPMorgan saw big things ahead in social networking sites. The Wall Street titan could have secured a small - make that tiny - piece of Facebook for $240 million. As Microsoft showed us in October, $240 million buys you less than 2% of Facebook. That deal put the value of the social networking site at about $15 billion, not bad for a shop that brought in less than $200 million in revenue last year.

For less than $2 a share, but about $40 million more in total cash, JPMorgan could have swept Net calling specialist Vonage (VG) off its feet. Vonage was handed some big legal setbacks last year regarding the patents that make its service possible. The company now trades around $1.77 a share and the total value of its shares outstanding is $279 million.

Looking at other deals that fetched $240 million, few acquisitions have the stature of Bear Stearns (BSC, Fortune 500). Take Hitwise. Credit monitor Experian wrote a $240 million check last year for its acquisition of Hitwise, a Web measurement and rating shop.

Maybe instead of playing the role of Wall Street's big banker, JPMorgan could have looked elsewhere for a little lift. Feel-good drug maker Jazz Pharma, of Palo Alto, Calif. has exactly the same market value as JPMorgan gave Bear Stearns.  To top of page

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