South Africa

J.P. Morgan’s group of nine captures the pole position for a third year running.

Andrew Cuffe & team J.P. Morgan

second team Ilze Roux & team BofA Merrill Lynch

third team Michael Gresty & team Deutsche

J.P. Morgan’s group of nine captures the pole position for a third year running. The team, headquartered in Johannesburg, is led by Andrew Cuffe, 43, whom one money manager describes as “a consistently excellent strategist.” The analysts raised furniture retailer JD Group to top pick in December 2008, at 2,820 rand, on an anticipated rise in consumer spending. The stock had jumped to 4,360 rand by late January 2010, a gain of 54.6 percent that trumped South Africa’s broad market by 24.8 points.

Unranked last year, the 15-member BofA troupe guided by newcomer Ilze Roux takes the No. 2 spot. With offices in Cape Town and Johannesburg, the squad impresses investors with “strong coverage of the region, good historical perspective and a very good call on Naspers,” as one money manager puts it. The analysts recommended the Internet and pay-TV conglomerate in February 2009, at 14,330 rand, citing strong growth prospects. The stock sizzled 88.4 percent, to 27,000 rand, through January.

Michael Gresty and his 18-person Deutsche team, in third place after failing to rank last year, “cover all the bases,” cheers one supporter. Last March the Johannesburg-based crew issued a contrarian upgrade to buy on life insurer Old Mutual, dubbed a bargain at 510 rand. By late January the stock had shot up 148.4 percent, to 1,267 rand.

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