Advancing from runner-up, UBS’s Philippines squad under the direction of Jody Santiago snags top honors for the first time since 2008. From their base in Manila, the 46-year-old Santiago and two teammates report on 31 names “in a manner that’s easily understood and immediately useful for investment decision-making, with simultaneous micro and macro views so every stock call has a solid context,” one investor observes. In September 2014 the researchers slashed their rating on Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. from buy to sell, in large part because the Manila-based wireline and wireless telecommunications services provider was facing increasing competition. Twelve months later its shares had tumbled 25.3 percent, to 2,263.78 Philippine pesos, while the regional broad market had jumped 15.9 percent, prompting Santiago and his associates to revise their outlook back to buy. Although PLDT has continued to fall, closing at 1,810 pesos in late April, its 20 percent decline during the period was in line with the performance of its Asia ex-Japan peers overall. UBS’s analysts are more upbeat on the prospects for Robinsons Retail Holdings, dubbing it a top pick going forward. The Manila-headquartered company owns and operates retail outlets across a range of formats — including convenience and department stores, home improvement centers and supermarkets — and enjoys ample room to expand given the nation’s underpenetrated consumer markets, they contend. At 90 pesos, their target price for Robinsons’ stock implies a 12.6 percent potential premium to its value in late April. “For his unmatched knowledge and unparalleled client service, Jody is always my first call,” a second fund manager remarks.