Consumer - Retailing/Food & Drug Chains: Third

THIRD TEAM Scott Mushkin Jefferies & Co.

Scott Mushkin spent the past two years in the runner-up position; this year the Jefferies & Co. analyst rises to third. “Scott does the best grassroots research in the supermarket sector,” declares one ally. Mushkin upgraded Whole Foods Market from hold to buy in October, at $38.10, encouraged by accelerating same-store sales at the Austin, Texas–based chain. The company reported that year-over-year comparable-store sales rose 9.1 percent in its fiscal first quarter, which ended January 16, and 7.8 percent in the second quarter, which ended April 10. In early May, with the stock up 56.1 percent, to $59.55, and ahead of the sector by 44.5 percentage points, Mushkin downgraded it to neutral, on valuation. The downgrade was premature, however. Whole Foods’ stock continued to rise, albeit more slowly, and climbed an additional 10.9 percent, to $66.04, through August.