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The 2014 All-Asia Research Team: Equity Strategy, No. 1: David Cui, Ajay Kapur & team

Winning its first top finish on this list is Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

David Cui,
Ajay Kapur
& team
Bank of America
Merrill Lynch
First-Place Appearances: 1

Total Appearances: 9

Team Debut: 2000

Winning its first top finish on this list is Bank of America Merrill Lynch, whose squad of a dozen strategists across the region rises from No. 2, in large part thanks to its coverage of China, investors say. Co-leader David Cui also directs, with Ting Lu, the crew that earns first place in reporting on that country. Ajay Kapur, his co-captain in this sector, joined the firm last June from Deutsche Bank, whose runner-up teams he led in 2013 through 2011. Cui and Kapur are based in Hong Kong, and their team’s research on the mainland “is the best that we use,” one adherent declares. “They have good corporate contacts as well and were early at identifying the Chinese credit crisis.” Among the analysts’ major investment themes this year is the end of the bull market in growth stocks, particularly in the alternative-energy, consumer, gaming and Internet sectors. They point to the flattening of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s balance sheet and increasing uncertainty regarding policy in Beijing as drags on the momentum. With the help of ongoing reform, they expect the inexpensive shares of state-owned enterprises to become increasingly attractive. In turn, they recommend that investors reduce exposure to expensive growth stocks that have been buoyed by quantitative easing and prefer instead SOE names, which have not similarly benefited. Kapur, 49, has also led Citi, Morgan Stanley and UBS teams to positions on this roster, including first place for Morgan Stanley in 2001 and 2002. He holds the equivalent of an MBA in management from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and a master’s degree in public affairs from New Jersey’s Princeton University. Cui, 46, has been with the firm since joining Merrill Lynch in October 1999, following six years working at different international brokerages, most recently Indosuez W.I. Carr Securities. He earned a bachelor’s degree in commerce from Australia’s University of New South Wales and debuted as a co-leader of this squad in 2011.

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