The 2016 All-Europe Research Team: Switzerland, No. 1: Panagiotis Spiliopoulos & team
For the past three years, Vontobel’s group has held steady in second place behind the top-ranked UBS squad.
First-Place Appearances: 4
Total Appearances: 22
Team Debut: 1992
For the past three years, Vontobel’s group has held steady in second place behind the top-ranked UBS squad. Now Panagiotis Spiliopoulos and his teammates in Zurich rise to claim the firm’s first top finish since 2008, bumping their larger rival to No. 2 and impressing investors with “coverage that’s very broad, good access to managements and a financial team that seems to know just about everything there is to know about Swiss banks,” in the words of one portfolio manager. The team of a dozen analysts is advising clients to favor pharmaceuticals giant Roche Holding. Headquartered in Basel, the world’s largest biotechnology company offers “large upside potential,” boasting “uncontested leadership” in cancer treatments and “the most dynamic pipeline in immuno-oncology,” says Spiliopoulos. Among the products driving sustained sales growth are Perjeta and Kadcyla for breast cancer treatment and Avastin for cervical, lung and ovarian cancers. In hematology next-generation drug Gazyva is expected to replace blockbuster Rituxan, an intravenous therapy for certain types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; its U.S. patent expires in 2018. Vontobel’s researchers assign Roche a price objective of Sf320, which represents a 25 percent premium to its trading level in mid-January. They are also bullish on Austria’s AMS, a semiconductor manufacturer whose shares trade on the SIX Swiss Exchange and elsewhere. Known for its gesture and optical sensors, microphone chips, noise-canceling solutions and power management products, the technology company is making strides in both new and existing markets, the group notes. AMS has a Who’s Who base of corporate customers in the smartphone and tablet spaces, says Spiliopoulos, beginning with U.S.-based Apple as its largest buyer and including such other industry leaders as China’s Huawei Technologies Co. and Xiaomi Technology Co., and LG Electronics and Samsung of South Korea. New opportunities for the company are shaping up in “cognitive lighting applications, biosensors for wearables and gas-sensor applications,” he adds, while “significant long-term growth opportunity” exists in the automotives sector, where AMS sensors are key for “reducing emissions, lowering fuel consumption, increasing safety requirements and operating autonomous vehicles.” At Sf29.30 in mid-January, the share price is nearly half the squad’s objective of Sf54. Spiliopoulos, a Swiss-born Greek citizen, has spent 14 years at Vontobel, serving as head of research since June 2008. He has in the past reported on European industrials, technology and telecommunications equities, including a stint at Julius Bear Group, and worked as head of investments at a technology venture capital firm. The 45-year-old team leader holds several university degrees, including a master’s in computer science and economics from Zurich’s Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule.