Total Appearances: 4
Analyst Debut: 2011
Leading this roster for a third year running is ISI Groups Gregory Melich, who possesses by far the best fundamental and industry knowledge of the companies he covers, according to one fund manager. Another client appreciates Melich, 44, for offering no-nonsense, level-headed research and information delivery. In general, the analyst favors the auto parts and home improvement subsectors of this space. Regarding specific retailers, he notes, the best bets are those that enjoy strong multichannel prospects or operate successful membership models. Melich cites Seattle-based Amazon.com as an example of the latter. The online giant is quickly becoming a top-five retailer in many key categories, he says, including such consumer durables as books and electronics. Most important, however, is the value of its Amazon Prime program, which creates loyalty that our survey work suggests is even higher than that enjoyed by membership-only warehouse club Costco Wholesale Corp. of Issaquah, Washington. Since January 2013 he has maintained a buy rating on Amazon; by the middle of September 2014, the shares had risen 18.4 percent, to $323.89.