In just his third appearance on this roster, ISI Group’s Stephen East vaults from runner-up to claim his first No. 1 finish, unseating All-America Research Team Hall of Famer Ivy Zelman of Zelman & Associates, who held the top spot for the previous four years and tumbles to No. 3. From his base in St. Louis, the 51-year-old researcher follows 14 U.S. homebuilders and building products providers, winning plaudits for “bringing a middle-America viewpoint to the Street,” in the words of one fund manager. Another backer reports that “Steve goes out and visits more housing communities than any other analyst in the space.” One company that East has recently brought to investors’ attention is Fortune Brands Home & Security, a Deerfield, Illinois–based producer of home cabinets and security systems. He upgraded the manufacturer from netural to buy in October 2012, at $27.70, because it posted strong revenues that beat expectations. By late January 2014, Fortune Brands had rocketed 66.1 percent higher, eclipsing its peers by 19.1 percentage points, but the researcher cautioned clients that management’s earnings projections were disappointing. Accordingly, he downgraded the shares to neutral, and through mid-September they slipped 6.9 percent, to $42.83, while the sector gained 9.7 percent. East joined ISI in February 2012 from Ticonderoga Securities, where tracked this group and served as research director. Previously, he monitored the sector for Pali Capital and Susquehanna Financial Group and covered financial services at A.G. Edwards & Sons. He also worked as a buy-side analyst for a time and spent six years in the finance department of Missouri-based agrochemicals giant Monsanto Co. The researcher holds a bachelor of science degree in finance from Arkansas State University and earned an MBA at the University of Missouri’s Trulaske College of Business.