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Industries – Oil & Gas: First

Karen Kostanian
& team
Bank of America
Merrill Lynch
"He’s not afraid to speak his mind — I like that."

Bank of America Merrill Lynch spent the past two years in third place and this year vaults to the top. Led by Karen Kostanian, who also pilots the No. 2 team in Utilities, the Russia-based trio follows 23 stocks and plans to launch coverage on two or three more names this year. The analysts downgraded Russia’s Gazprom from buy to neutral in February 2012, at $6.17, on fears that the natural-gas producer would face a massive tax hike. In May 2013 the government announced that it would switch from a flat-tax approach on gas companies to a formula that considers current energy prices and extraction difficulties. By the end of that month, the stock had fallen 39.5 percent, to $3.73, compared with the sector’s decline of 11 percent. Kostanian, 37, earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and finance at West Virginia’s Bethany College and an MBA from New York’s Columbia University. He joined the firm in 2003 in New York as an interest rate derivatives analyst, and three years later he moved to Russia to cover utilities. — Katie Gilbert


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