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The competition between the leading providers of U.S. equity research just got tighter, with five firms crowding into the top three places on the 2015 All-America Research Team, Institutional Investor’s annual ranking of the country’s best sell-side analysts. Bank of America Merrill Lynch displaces J.P. Morgan atop the roster, ending the latter’s winning streak at five years; their team totals are 38 and 36, respectively. However, when a rating of four is assigned to each first-place position, three to each second-place position, and so on, J.P. Morgan continues to best BofA Merrill in the weighted results, this time by a score of 99 to 77.

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Three firms are locked in a tie for third place overall, with 25 spots each: Barclays (rising one rung from last year), Evercore ISI (jumping from fifth place) and Morgan Stanley (rank unchanged). Click on the Leaders link in the navigation table at right to view the full list of 31 ranked firms, or Weighting the Results to see how these research providers fare when the abovementioned formula is applied.

Evercore ISI — the outfit created last year through the merger of Evercore Partners and International Strategy & Investment Group — records the highest finish by a non-bulge-bracket firm since 1995, when Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corp. captured second place. It is also the only one of the five whose team total is higher this year than in 2014, but a word of explanation is in order. We made a number of changes to this year’s ballot — adding Shipping, deleting Tobacco and merging sectors in the Consumer; Health Care; and Technology, Media & Telecommunications categories (details at Methodology) — reducing the sector total by four, to 60.

This year’s team features 285 analysts, including 30 people appearing for the first time. To view the individuals and squads in first place in each sector, click here or select the appropriate link in the navigation table for more information. The Overview highlights some of the more interesting and unusual results of this year’s survey, while the Slideshow features some of this year's top-ranked researchers describing what they enjoy most about their jobs.

The 2015 All-America Research Team reflects the opinions of a record 3,800 individuals at more than 1,000 firms that collectively manage an estimated $11.3 trillion in U.S. equities.