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2015 All-America Research Team: IT Hardware & Electronics Manufacturing Services, No. 1: A.M. (Toni) Sacconaghi

A.M. (Toni) Sacconaghi — No. 1 on the former roster from 2002 through 2014 — secures first place on the revised lineup.

A.M. (Toni) Sacconaghi
Sanford C.
Bernstein & Co.
First-Place Appearances: 14

Total Appearances: 16

Analyst Debut: 2001

This category combines the previously separate IT Hardware and Technology Supply Chain sectors, and A.M. (Toni) Sacconaghi — No. 1 on the former roster from 2002 through 2014 — secures first place on the revised lineup. Among the winning streaks posted by the 11 currently top-ranked All-America Research Team Hall of Famers, this 14-year reign is bested only by ISI Evercore analyst David Raso’s 15-year domination of the Machinery space; Meredith Adler of Barclays matches Sacconaghi’s run, atop the Retailing/Food & Drug Chains list. Although the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. researcher monitors just five companies in this space, he is considered “prolific in his research production” by one backer, who adds: “Perhaps most admirably, he is not afraid to put management on the spot with a tough question.” U.S. information technology companies “face several key issues,” observes Sacconaghi, 50. Namely, “how to migrate to new technologies such as cloud and subscription-based software offerings; how to compete against aggressive low-cost, Asia-based competitors; and finding new areas for growth, particularly given their very large revenue bases, which makes moving the needle difficult. Against this backdrop,” he adds, “we view most of our stocks as ‘trading stocks’ versus long-term holds.” Clients particularly praise his reliably positive outlook on Cupertino, California’s Apple. Underpinning his current optimism on the consumer electronics giant are a valuation he considers low and his belief that iPhone revenue can expand in the fiscal year through next September. Similarly, he continues to tout Palo Alto, California–based enterprise hardware provider Hewlett-Packard Co., which he deems “very inexpensive and likely to rerate as it splits into two separate companies in November,” when HP is expected to spin off its printer and personal computer business. A more recent favorite is data storage industry leader EMC Corp. of Hopkinton, Massachusetts. The analyst raised his rating on the stock to outperform in April, after more than five years of maintaining a market perform stance, citing his expectation that management is likely to undertake one of several value-creating options before year’s end. Going the other direction, in mid-July he lowered his position on printers and ink products manufacturer Lexmark International of Lexington, Kentucky, from market perform to underperform. “The company had very poor earnings this year, conceding that it had a large build in channel inventory, and lowered guidance for the year — and the stock cratered,” he recalls. Indeed, by early August, Lexmark had slumped 28.1 percent, to $32.11, and trailed its peers by 31.1 percentage points. Citing valuation, he boosted his rating back to market perform. Sacconaghi “continues to write the most in-depth, best-researched work in the space,” another fan insists. “He really understands of-the-moment controversies and attacks them directly in his work.”

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