Climbing one position to No. 2 on this list are Wim Gille and his 16-strong ABN Amro Bank squad. The analysts monitor 118 Benelux names from their base in Amsterdam and are hailed for their “strong research pieces — both for large caps and midcaps — helpful national network, global view and good accessibility,” in the words of one fund manager. Favorite stocks include Nyrstar, which they elevated from sell to buy in July. A mining and smelting company headquartered in Belgium, Nyrstar is the world’s largest producer of refined zinc. Management’s recent rights issue of €250 million ($312 million) coupled with a €350 million offering of senior secured notes due in 2019 undergirds the crew’s positive outlook. Proceeds will be used to repurchase bonds coming due in 2015–’16, thereby lowering debt to 2.5 times cash flow, and toward a €250 million capital expenditure program involving 25 projects. Among them: redevelopment of the 120-year-old Port Pirie smelter in Australia, which supplies Asian markets and offers an internal rate of return of 25 to 30 percent. Nyrstar’s higher production capacity is neatly aligned with price hikes in zinc amid major mine closures worldwide as global demand increases, the researchers believe. “Zinc fundamentals have been significantly improving,” says Gille, 46. In addition, last autumn, Netherlands-based global commodities trader Trafigura Beheer acquired a 15 percent stake, “which continues to fuel speculation the company is a takeover target,” he notes. Since the ABN Amro upgrade, Nyrstar’s stock has soared 42.3 percent, through January, rising to €3.33 and outperforming the regional broad market by 39.1 percentage points.