For a second year running — and the third time since 2013 — Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Thailand crew in Bangkok secures first place. Co-captained by Supavud Saicheua, 59, and 51-year-old Therapong Vachirapong, this team has “the best understanding of what’s happening on the ground and the ability to look through the data to come up with counterconsensus calls,” marvels one booster. Also winning investor praise is the analysts’ shift on Thai Oil, which is among the country’s largest oil and gas exploration and production players. In March 2015 they boosted their rating from neutral to buy, citing likely benefits from scheduled refinery upgrades, and by late last month the Bangkok-based refiner’s stock had jumped 29.8 percent, to 66.50 baht. During the same period, Thai shares as a whole fell 7.1 percent. Bangkok Chain Hospital is another company for which BofA Merrill’s outlook has become more optimistic. Largely thanks to increasing patient traffic at its World Medical Center premium hospital, the researchers revised their position from underperform to buy in November. Through late April shares of the Nonthaburi-based chain operator soared 59.4 percent, to 10.60 baht, compared with the 1.5 percent decline for the broad domestic market. The nine analysts track 76 names and plan to expand coverage, particularly into the small-caps space.