Rising one position to No. 2 is UBS, which has earned a spot on this roster every year going back to 1995. Since September its research efforts in this space have been directed by Sydney-based Simon Mitchell, who took the reins from co-head of Australia and New Zealand equities Christopher Williams. The 42-year-old newcomer joined UBS in 2006, reporting on transportation and infrastructure companies, and previously covered transport names for Bank of America Merrill Lynch and J.P. Morgan. He also spent time in investment banking at the U.K.’s Close Brothers Group and was an accountant at KPMG in Australia. Mitchell holds bachelor’s degrees in commerce and in law from the University of Queensland, Brisbane. His group of 40 analysts monitors 215 stocks from offices in Auckland, Melbourne and Sydney, and “has redesigned its research product with greater depth and breadth than ever before,” one portfolio manager attests. Their July change of course on BlueScope Steel garners widespread investor applause. Advising that the Melbourne-headquartered steel products supplier was on the brink of shuttering plants to combat a glut from Chinese imports — a move that the researchers reasoned would boost earnings and profits — they raised their rating on the stock from neutral to buy. Performance did, indeed, improve: For the six months through December, management reported, BlueScope’s year-over-year net profit increased 46.6 percent, to A$119 million ($86.7 million), while earnings per share jumped 44.1 percent, to 20.9 cents. At the time of the team’s upgrade, the shares were trading at A$2.89, just two days and 15 cents off their 12-month low, and by late last month they had soared to A$6.78, posting a 134.6 percent gain during a period in which the broad regional market fell 10.4 percent.