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2015 All-Asia Research Team: Australia/New Zealand, No. 3: Christopher Williams & team

< The 2015 All-Asia Research TeamChristopher Williams & teamUBSFirst-place appearances: 2

Total appearances: 24

Team debut: 1995

After two years at runner-up, UBS’s squad of 38 analysts under the direction of Sydney-based Christopher Williams rises to third place. “They are our go-to source for the region,” proclaims one fund manager in Hong Kong. Reporting on 250 names, the researchers single out Qantas Airways for praise. In October they elevated the Mascot-headquartered flag carrier’s stock from neutral to buy, citing low fuel prices and a recovering domestic market. The shares soon took off, rocketing 137.1 percent, to A$3.39, by the end of April, while the Australian market gained 8.9 percent. They believe that a price of A$4 is justified. At the other end of the spectrum is New South Wales’ Woolworths, which they have been advising investors to sell since November, when the analysts dropped their rating from buy. Competition was increasing for the diversified retailer, they advised. Although the stock rallied early this year, it couldn’t sustain momentum. In February management announced that year-over-year net profits for the six months through early January had declined 3.1 percent, to A$1.28 million ($1.04 million) — and investors punished the shares. Late last month Woolworths closed at A$29.48, off 11.9 percent since the team’s downgrade and lagging the Australian market by 18.5 percentage points. Williams, 41, moved to UBS in July 2004 from the Australian Securities Exchange, where he worked as an investor relations manager. He has since last May served as co-head of the firm’s Australia and New Zealand equities operations. Williams earned a bachelor’s degree in commerce, marketing and economics at the University of Sydney.

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