In his debut appearance last year, Vivek Arya garnered a runner-up position, and now he advances to third place. The Bank of America Merrill Lynch researcher is “an independent thinker who does a wonderful job of combining the big-picture strategy with the near-term set-up,” one fan declares. Reporting on 19 U.S. semiconductors companies, Arya is “cautious near term on China demand but longer term selectively positive on proven content gainers and consistent execution stories in mobile data,” he says. Examples include radio-frequency chipmakers — such as Singapore’s Avago Technologies; Qorvo of Greensboro, North Carolina; and Woburn, Massachusetts–based Skyworks Solutions — automotives suppliers, including NXP Semiconductors of the Netherlands and Phoenix–headquartered On Semiconductor Corp.; and data center developers like Santa Clara, California’s Intel Corp. and Nvidia Corp. “Expect companies with strong management teams showing consistent growth and execution and those benefiting from sector consolidation to be long-term winners,” the analyst adds. Arya, 44, earned a bachelor’s degree in electronics and communication engineering at India’s Birla Institute of Technology, a Ph.D. in electrical engineering at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and an MBA at Columbia Business School in New York. He worked in the field at Bell Labs (now a subsidiary of France’s Alcatel-Lucent) and the Fiber & Electro-Optics Research Center at Virginia Tech before becoming an equity analyst, signing on with BofA Merrill in March 2004.