The 2015 All-America Research Team, Institutional Investor’s exclusive annual ranking of the nation’s leading sell-side equity analysts, features 285 analysts from 31 firms — including three that haven’t appeared in a while. KeyBanc Capital Markets joins the lineup for the first time since 2007, while both Leerink Partners and Piper Jaffray & Co. return after an absence of five years. Visit the Leaders table to view the full list.
Among research providers that finish in the top ten, six move up, three move down and one holds steady. Here are other noteworthy developments at some of the leading houses.
1. Bank of America Merrill Lynch
After two years at No. 2, Bank of America Merrill Lynch rises one rung to capture the top spot. This is the firm’s 20th appearance in first place since the team was introduced in 1972 — and its first since Bank of America Corp. bought Merrill Lynch & Co. in 2009. (When one firm acquires another, it also lays claims to that entity’s ranking history.) Merrill last led the lineup in 2000; Banc of America Securities came in 13th that year.
BofA Merrill claims 38 total team positions — that’s down from 41 last year, but the decline is partly attributable to ballot changes. For instance, Lorraine Hutchinson was a runner-up in two Retailing categories in 2014: Broadlines & Department Stores and Specialty Stores. Those were combined this year to create Retailing/Department Stores & Specialty Softlines, where Hutchinson finishes third.
Similarly, Kevin Fischbeck was No. 3 last year in Health Care Facilities and a runner-up in Managed Care; this year he ranks third in the newly merged Health Care Facilities & Managed Care. (See Methodology for complete details on the changes to this year’s ballot.)
Five BofA Merrill analysts are sector leaders, one fewer than last year. Tal Liani (Telecom & Networking Equipment), Kasthuri Rangan (Software), All-America Research Team Hall of Famer George Staphos (Paper & Packaging) and Timna Tanners (Metals & Mining) are returning champs. Ronald Epstein (Aerospace & Defense Electronics) rises from third place to first; Douglas Leggate and Justin Post drop from first place to second and third, respectively, in Integrated Oil and Internet. (Leggate also rises from runner-up to No. 3 in Oil & Gas Exploration & Production.)
Two analysts who ranked last year fall from their sector lineups: Glenn Engel, a runner-up in Airlines, and Jessica Reif Cohen, a runner-up in Cable & Satellite. (The Hall of Famer continues to rank in Media.) Stephen Suttmeier, a runner-up in Technical Analysis, is this year’s only previously unranked BofA Merrill analyst.
“Our U.S. equity research team and coverage have been very stable again over the past year, with one senior analyst retirement replaced through internal promotion,” reports Brett Hodess, director of equity research for the Americas. “We are planning to maintain this stability and scope of coverage in the coming year.”
2. J.P. Morgan
J.P. Morgan, which led the All-America Research Team lineup from 2010 through 2014, bested BofA Merrill by one team position last year; this time around it trails the latter by two. However, when a weighting of four is assigned to each first-place position, three to each second-place position, and so on, J.P. Morgan reigns supreme, with a weighted score of 99 to BofA Merrill’s 77.(Click here to see how all research providers fare when this formula is applied.)
J.P. Morgan researchers take top honors in nearly a quarter of the survey’s categories — 14 out of 60 — and all of them were sector winners last year too:
- Steven Alexopoulos, Banks/Midcap
- Jamie Baker, Airlines
- Jamminder (Jimmy) Bhullar, Insurance/Life
- Matthew Boss, Retailing/Department Stores & Specialty Softlines
- Philip Cusick, Telecom Services*
- Lisa Gill, Health Care Technology & Distribution
- Joseph Greff, Gaming & Lodging; he joins the Hall of Fame this year
- Tien-Tsin Huang, Computer Services & IT Consulting
- Marko Kolanovic & team, Equity-Linked Strategies
- Tycho Peterson, Life Science & Diagnostic Tools
- Hall of Famer Andrew Steinerman, Business, Education & Professional Services
- Hall of Famer Michael Weinstein, Medical Supplies & Devices
- Kenneth Worthington, Brokers, Asset Managers & Exchanges
- Jeffrey Zekauskas, Chemicals
* Cusick is also No. 2 in Cable & Satellite
However, the firm’s first-place total is down five. Seven-time Semiconductors sector champion Christopher Danely left J.P. Morgan in July 2014 for Citi, after polling for last year's All-America Research Team had concluded but before those results were published; Brian Tunick, who reigned supreme in Retailing/Specialty Stores from 2006 through 2014, moved to RBC Capital Markets in January; Joseph Nadol, who held the top spot in Aerospace & Defense Electronics for the past six years, was among the victims of a train crash outside New York City in February; and Justin Lake, No. 1 in Health Care Facilities and Managed Care in 2013 and 2014, joined Viking Global Investors of Stamford, Connecticut, in May.
Two J.P. Morgan researchers debut on the team this year: Cory Kasimov, No. 3 in Biotechnology/Mid- & Small-Cap, and Harlan Sur Jr., a runner-up in Semiconductor Capital Equipment. Only one who ranked last year fails to make the cut this time around: J. David Anderson, a runner-up in Oil Services & Equipment.
Ballot changes also caused a net loss of one position. Last year Matthew Boss was No. 1 in Retailing/Broadlines & Department Stores and a runner-up in Apparel, Footwear & Textiles; those sectors were folded into Retailing/Department Stores & Specialty Softlines.
“We are fortunate that the firm’s commitment to having an exceptional, broad-based research franchise has been consistent through the years,” notes Nicholas Rosato, head of North American equity research. “The team’s strong culture and focus on client service are cultivated in part by a core group of analysts who have ‘grown up’ together at J.P. Morgan. We tend to have relatively low turnover. Central to our strategy is to continually look for ways to strengthen our team to ensure that we are best positioned to meet our clients’ needs.”
No. 3 Barclays (tie)
Barclays — which tumbled from second place to fourth in 2013, then held the No. 4 spot last year — returns to the top three. “Several of our more significant changes occurred several years ago, and the past 12 to 18 months saw those internal promotions and external hires build real momentum in their client franchises,” explains Robert Rouse, head of U.S. equity research. “Most recently, we made a few strategic moves to expand coverage in key growth areas.”
For instance, the firm hired Geoffrey Meacham from J.P. Morgan late last year to lead its biotechnology and pharmaceuticals coverage — the nine-time member of the All-America Research Team finishes third in Biotechnology/Large-Cap this year — and Robert Wertheimer joined in August to report on the Machinery sector. Wertheimer last ranked in 2011, in third place on behalf of Morgan Stanley.
“Our focus for the year ahead is less structural and instead remains squarely on the core value position of quality written research and client service,” Rouse adds.
Barclays claims 25 team positions, down from 28 in 2014. Four of its analysts finish in first place in their respective sectors (one fewer than last year), including three who extend their winning streaks: Hall of Famers Meredith Adler, Retailing/Food & Drug Chains, and Andrew Lazar, Food; as well as Scott Davis, Electrical Equipment & Multi-Industry. Joshua Raskin outpaces all others in Health Care Facilities & Managed Care, a category created through the merger of two formerly separate sectors. (He was a runner-up last year in the former and No. 2 in the latter.)
Andrew Kaplowitz, No. 1 in Engineering & Construction from 2009 through 2014, tumbles to third place and falls out of the Machinery lineup, where he had earned a runner-up spot for the past three years. Kaplowitz joined Citi in July to cover the Electrical Equipment & Multi-Industry sector. James West, who planted the Barclays flag atop the Oil Service & Equipment roster in 2013 and 2014, moved to Evercore ISI last year; he continues to dominate that category.
Two other analysts who earned runner-up spots in 2014 slide from their sector lineups this year: Raimo Lenschow (Software) and Brandon Oglenski (Airfreight & Surface Transportation). Three debut on behalf of the firm this year: Patrick Duffy Fischer — dubbed a Rising Star of Wall Street Research from 2012 through 2014 — in Chemicals, Scott Gaffner in Paper & Packaging and Manav Patnaik in Business, Education & Professional Services; all three are runners-up.
No. 3 Evercore ISI (tie)
ISI Group, the independent research boutique founded by economists Ed Hyman and Nancy Lazar in 1991, vaulted from tenth place to fifth in 2014. Its acquisition by Evercore Partners last fall hasn’t inhibited its ascent; the firm jumps two places to earn the highest finish by a non-bulge-bracket firm since 1995, when Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corp. was the No. 2 research provider.
Evercore ISI is the only firm in the top five whose team total is higher this year. It picks up two positions, for a total of 25, and claims more sector victories — ten — than any firm but J.P. Morgan. However, it edges past its global rival with regard to ratio of outperformance: 40 percent of Evercore ISI’s team positions are for analysts in first place, compared with 38.9 percent of J.P. Morgan’s.
Three of those sector-topping appearances belong to one man: Mark Schoenebaum, who’s No. 1 in Biotechnology/Large-Cap, Biotechnology/Mid- & Small-Cap and Pharmaceuticals/Major. Schoenebaum, a member of the All-America Research Team Hall of Fame, is only the second analyst in the 44-year history of the survey to top three sectors in a single year. In 1999 fellow Hall of Famer Gary Yablon of Credit Suisse First Boston ranked highest in a trio of transportation categories: Airfreight, Railroads and Trucking.
Three other top analysts represent Evercore ISI for the first time. Umer Raffat, a Rising Star of Wall Street Research in each of the past two years, debuts at No. 1 in Pharmaceuticals/Specialty. Douglas Terreson rises from second place to claim his first victory in Integrated Oil since moving from Morgan Stanley in 2009. James West, who joined the firm from Barclays last year, celebrates this third straight victory in Oil Services & Equipment.
The firm’s four remaining sector champs extend their current winning streaks:
- Stephen East, Homebuilders & Building Products
- Gregory Melich, Retailing/Broadlines & Hardlines
- Hall of Famer David Raso, Machinery
- Stephen Sakwa & team, REITs
he firm lost only one ranked analyst since last year: Jonathan Wolff, who was No. 2 in Natural Gas and a runner-up in Oil & Gas Exploration & Production. He moved to Jefferies in November (and earns a runner-up spot in Natural Gas on behalf of that firm). Wolff is succeeded at Evercore ISI by Timm Schneider, who debuts as a runner-up in Natural Gas. Also marking their first appearances on the team are Jonathan Chappell, a runner-up in Shipping, and Richard Ross, No. 3 in Technical Analysis.
Finally, Ed Hyman — who held the top spot in Economics for a remarkable and record-setting 35 years, from 1980 through 2014 — slips to second place. The Hall of Famer is replaced by his former colleague and firm co-founder Nancy Lazar, now of Cornerstone Macro.
No. 3 Morgan Stanley (tie)
In third place for a third straight year is Morgan Stanley, whose team position total falls by five, to 25. But runners-up account for only seven of those spots, fewer than any other firm in the top five and second only to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in the top ten.
Morgan Stanley captures four sector victories — two of which belong to Benjamin Swinburne, who is No. 1 in Cable & Satellite (for a third year running) and in Media (for a second straight year). Other category champions are John Glass, who extends his winning streak in Restaurants to a sixth year; and William Greene Jr., who celebrates his fourth consecutive appearance atop the Airfreight & Surface Transportation roster.
The firm has two researchers appearing on the team for the first time: Fotis Giannakoulis, who captures second place in the newly added Shipping sector; and Evan Kurtz, a runner-up in Metals & Mining. Four Morgan Stanley analysts who made the team last year fail to appear this year. Hall of Famer David Adelman, who was promoted to head of Americas equity research last fall, topped the now-defunct Tobacco list for 12 straight years. Also absent: Joseph Evan Calio, a runner-up in Integrated Oil the past three years; John Godyn, No. 2 in Airlines; and Stephen Maresca, a runner-up in Natural Gas.
“We have made incremental investments in socially responsible investing and quantitative research, as well as the Internet and biotechnology sectors,” reports Adelman. “We have also put incremental resources into training, development of our people and collaboration, and we have selectively added junior talent.”
No. 9 RBC Capital Markets
Last year’s No. 11 firm, RBC Capital Markets, leaps two places to finish in the top ten for the first time after adding more team positions than any other firm — seven, for a total of 16. Six of those spots are taken by analysts who debut as runners-up:
- Jonathan Atkin, Telecom Services
- Gerard Cassidy, Banks/Large-Cap
- Scott Hanold, Oil & Gas Exploration & Production
- Daniel Perlin, Computer Services & IT Consulting
- Mark Sue, Telecom & Networking Equipment
- Robert Wetenhall Jr., Homebuilders & Building Products
The seventh belongs to Michael Yee, a runner-up in Biotechnology last year. That sector was divided into Large-Cap and Small- & Mid-Cap, and Yee appears in both: He repeats as runner-up in the former and captures second place in the latter.
Yee is one of two RBC analysts to claim the No. 2 spot. The other is Mark Mahaney, who debuted on the All-America Research Team in 2006, as a runner-up in Internet on behalf of Citi, and has made the team every year since; he joined RBC in 2013.
The firm has been actively working to establish a larger presence in the market, according to Marc Harris, director of global research. “My U.S. management team and I, along with the head of U.S. equity sales, worked together closely to develop a multiyear institutional strategy to support our drive for increased commission market share,” he says. “Sales committed to targeted development of deeper one-to-one client relationships for the analysts and broader product distribution, and research committed to producing a continually rising bar of differentiated product that clients cared about and substantially elevated levels of targeted client outreach.”
The strategy is working. In 2011, RBC was represented on the All-America Research Team for the first time, when Amit Daryanani earned a runner-up spot in Technology Supply Chain; overall the firm tied for 19th place. It moved up three notches the following year, up three more in 2013, then to 11 and now to No. 9, adding to its team total every year along the way.
“The market for sell-side research is crowded,” Harris adds. “Firms and analysts that don’t focus on creating and maintaining a unique position in the market will fade.” He sits down twice a year with each analyst and conducts detailed performance reviews, looking at what’s working, what’s not and where there’s room for improvement. “I comb through volumes of data on where analysts are marketing, who they are calling, what companies they have on the road and what they are not doing that they could be,” he explains.
Recent hires include Brian Tunick, who amassed nine straight visits to the winner’s circle in Retailing/Specialty Stores while at J.P. Morgan. He joined RBC in January but didn’t begin publishing until early May, when ballots for this year’s team were being distributed. As a result, he doesn’t make the 2015 team — this is the first time he has missed since his 2004 debut — but he could return next year.