First TeamLauren Lieberman
Wendy Nicholson, Citi
Justin Hott, Bear Stearns
Amy Low Chasen, Goldman Sachs; John Faucher, JPMorgan; William Pecoriello, Morgan Stanley; William Schmitz, Deutsche
|Rising from second to take top honors for the first time, Lauren Lieberman of Lehman Brothers “is a bulldog asking tough questions of management teams,” marvels one money manager. Lieberman, 33, proved tough on Estée Lauder Cos., making a strong counterconsensus argument in April, with the stock up 26.1 percent for the year, that the New York–based personal products manufacturer had weak fundamentals and did not provide a compelling long-term investment opportunity. The stock began to slip in May and by mid-September was down 1.8 percent for the year, while the sector was up 2.0 percent. Lieberman, who earned an MBA in 2001 from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, covered the sector for Credit Suisse before joining Lehman in 2005. Citi’s Wendy Nicholson slips one notch to second, but investors continue to praise “Wendy’s Weekly Write-Up” reports and her long-standing bullish call on Avon Products, first recommended in October 2005 and highlighted repeatedly since, largely on the New York– based beauty products manufacturer’s exposure to emerging markets. For the 12 months ended mid-September, the stock was up 16.9 percent. Justin Hott of Bear Stearns, who debuts in third, has “a good gut feeling for which stocks are ready to run,” one buy-sider says. In March, Hott said the time was right for Procter & Gamble Co., which he considered undervalued at $62.26. By mid-September shares of the Cincinnati-based maker of personal hygiene products had risen 8.9 percent, to $67.81.