Jamie Cook of Credit Suisse occupies this winner’s circle for the first time, improving on the second-place showing she posted the past four years. “Jamie is a seasoned analyst with tremendous industry knowledge and world-class research,” one money manager declares. Indeed, the 43-year-old has worked in the field for nearly 20 years. Before signing on with her current firm in June 2000, she reported on equities for Connecticut-based boutique Advest (which Merrill Lynch & Co. acquired in 2005). Cook received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics from Boston University. In March the researcher added Los Angeles–based Aecom to her sector portfolio, assigning the engineering powerhouse an outperform rating, at $29.02. Management has been cutting costs and deleveraging debt, she says, and earnings and free cash flow are on the rise. The stock ran up to $35.36 in June before tailing off to $27.24 in mid-September. Despite that 6.1 percent decline since Cook launched coverage, Aecom still paced U.S. engineering and construction shares overall, which slumped 16.4 percent during the same period. She remains bullish, believing it will climb as high as $36. But tops among the 20 companies in her coverage universe is Houston’s KBR, a major infrastructure engineering, procurement and construction concern. Contributing to her positive outlook, the analyst says, are the executive team’s recent efforts to restructure, jettisoning noncore businesses, as well as the strength of the company’s new contracts and its improving balance sheet. KBR closed at $16.68 in mid-September; her target price is $23. “Jamie has good management insights, which is very helpful for us clients,” observes another backer.
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