Although his run at the top ends at six years, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. researcher Aharon (Ronny) Gal, now No. 2, retains a loyal following. “Ronny has a deep level of industry expertise, which helps provide perspective on anticipating corporate strategy within the sector,” observes one portfolio manager. “He is one of the most knowledgeable analysts covering the sector and provides cogent analyses without deference to the consensus view.” The 48-year-old Gal advises that both fundamentals and M&A activity are driving specialty pharmaceuticals’ performance. Among his favorite names is Allergan, maker of neurotoxin Botox, ophthalmic solutions, skin care treatments and a host of other products. The analyst has touted the company since well before its May acquisition by Ireland’s Actavis. Announced in November, the deal was valued at $70.5 billion; the combined entity retains the Allergan name, Actavis’s Dublin global headquarters and administrative HQ in Parsippany, New Jersey. Gal had been a fan of integrated specialty pharma provider Actavis before the merger, as well. Regarding the new Allergan, he says, “I see both its profit margins and pipeline as being undervalued and expect the company to aggressively participate in M&A.” During the 12 months through mid-September, the stock jumped 24.1 percent, to $295.25, beating the broad market by 26.7 percentage points. He projects a further rise to $385.