Joshua Raskin of Barclays captures first place on this new roster, which reflects coverage of the previously separate Health Care Facilities and Managed Care sectors. He held the No. 2 position on the latter lineup last year — and the top spot in 2012 — and was a runner-up on the former. “Josh doesn’t pretend to be a stock picker who does your job for you,” one client remarks, “but his work is the most exhaustive source of fundamental data and well-organized analysis of the companies in his universe.” A second supporter dubs the analyst “an encyclopedia of knowledge. He is the first call for in-the-weed types of questions, such as quantifying a market opportunity and assessing the quality of management.” Raskin is neutral on the sector overall and bullish on the front-running managed care group. For example, among his preferred names is Hartford, Connecticut’s Aetna, which advanced 31.7 percent year-to-date through mid-September, to $116.15, leading its peers by 17.6 percentage points and ahead of the broad market by 36.6 percentage points. “The company has shown some of the strongest growth in the sector, due in part to its unique approach to provider partnerships and a superior management team,” the 42-year-old researcher explains. “We see Aetna as a national leader in the diversified broader space of health care services.” He also is optimistic about Aetna’s pending acquisition of smaller rival Humana of Louisville, Kentucky. Announced in July, the $37 billion deal is expected to be completed in the second half of next year and “will shift Aetna’s dependence to a greater proportion of Medicare and accelerate its long-term growth profile,” Raskin forecasts. His price target for the stock is $152. “No one else stays on top of key issues, including Medicare Advantage, flu trends, employment data,” a third admirer insists. Indeed, “it is functionally impossible to invest in this space — and produce competitive returns — without Josh’s work at hand,” another portfolio manager concludes.