Gabriel MoreenGabriel Moreen

BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research

The buy side says: “He is not afraid to say what he really thinks — that’s an all-too-rare quality among sell-side analysts.”

Last year, when this sector was added to the survey, Gabriel Moreen landed in the No. 2 spot. This year the BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research analyst captures top honors, thanks in part to his “willingness to embrace controversy and go against the grain,” says one client. In December, Moreen upgraded Western Gas Partners of the Woodlands, Texas, from neutral to buy, at $17.45, arguing that the companies in the partnership had much stronger balance sheets than their peers. By late August the stock had shot up to $24.08, gaining 38 percent at a time when the sector advanced 13.8 percent. Moreen, 33, earned an A.B. at Princeton University in 2001; he joined Merrill Lynch in 2005 from J.P. Morgan, where he worked as a junior analyst covering the natural-gas sector.