Over the course of 14 years at first Schroders and then Citi-group in London, Paolo Zani-boni climbed toward the top of the ladder as a securities analyst. The 38-year-old rose to become head of equity research for Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and deputy head of overall European research at -Citi. But in June 2007 he left that high--powered job for a piece of the action in one of the worlds hottest markets, taking over as head of equity research at Troika Dialog in -Moscow.
Emerging markets are the exciting and challenging part of the world, Zaniboni says. There is -also the misconception that -global banks can ride out market problems because the outperforming businesses in their port-folios will support the underperforming ones, when in fact underperforming businesses can hold back investment or success in the outperforming segments. Picking the right firm geared to the right markets is a more rewarding -strategy.
Plenty of analysts at bulge--bracket firms share that view. -Over the past year, Rus--sian investment banks have recruited scores of analysts including -many senior researchers from -global banks in a bid to capitalize on the strength of the domestic market and build powerful securities franchises, driving up salaries and making Moscow one of the most lucrative destinations in the world.
Theres an enormous demand for analysis of a compli-cated region, and people are willing to pay for it, says Roland Nash, 35, head of research and chief -equity strategist at Renaissance Capital in Moscow. If you want to make your fortune, go East, young man.
Its not hard to understand why -many researchers are doing that. At a time when -global banks are under pressure to cut costs, in the wake of massive losses on subprime mortgages and -other -credit fiascoes, Rus--sian firms are flush with cash from double--digit stock market returns in six of the past seven years and record profits. Although the liquidity squeeze pushed share prices lower in the first four months of this year and stemmed the flow of initial public offerings, stocks recovered smartly in May, and bankers expect the IPO pipeline to open up again. Rus-sian banks are determined to strengthen their dominance of the market and are willing and able to spend the -money needed to do so.
Consider VTB, which raised $8 billion in the worlds biggest IPO last year. The bank has been aggressively recruiting analysts from Western rivals. In March the 77.5 percent state--owned bank nabbed ten analysts from Deutsche Bank, including --equity research director Alexei Yakovitsky, who assumed the same role at his new firm. VTB is building something significantly bigger than what we had at Deutsche Bank, he says. The goal here is to build the largest and most competitive investment bank in Moscow. He jokes that, at 32, he is the old man of the team, and he marvels at the combination of youth and experience. Everyone else is in their late 20s or early 30s, yet all of them have eight to ten years of experience and have already held senior positions of -responsibility.
Yakovitsky plans to hire 20 more analysts, for a total of 30, in the coming year as part of VTBs $400 million expansion. But the firm faces stiff competition from -other domestic banks equally intent on achieving leadership in Ru-ssia during a period when worldwide investor interest and demand for research are at all-time highs.
Which firms are winning the race? For a fifth year in a row, investors credit Renaissance Capital with providing the best coverage of Rus-sian investments. The firm wins 15 team positions four more than last year and captures the top spot in 11 of the 12 sectors in the 2008 All--Russia Research Team survey, Institutional Investors fifth annual ranking of the nations leading -equity analysts. -Troika leaps two spots to second place, with 11 team positions, five more than in 2007. Uni-Credit -Aton and Deutsche each slip one notch, to third and fourth place, respectively, while UBS holds -steady in fifth place. Results are -based on responses from -nearly 290 buy-side investors at more than 230 institutions worldwide managing an estimated $108 billion in -Russian -assets.
RenCaps Nash, who is the top--ranked equity strategist for a fifth straight year, -hired seven analysts in the past year, bringing his research department head count to 55. The team added coverage of 34 companies, for a total of 250, more than -any other firm covering Rus-sian equities. Nashs staff has broadened its coverage of media, technology and transportation stocks; the team has also put more emphasis on building, construction and capital goods com-panies, reflecting a belief that oppor-tunity will flow from the governments planned 20 percent increase in spending on state enterprises and infrastructure this year.
Troika went on a hiring spree -early last year, -even as it was losing key analysts, including its research director, Lauri Sillantaka, whom Zani-boni replaced. The changes -didnt produce a net increase in research staff, but the firm did expand its coverage universe by 30 percent, to 200 stocks.
Other banks have also struggled to grow their research arms in Moscows frenzied job market. Uni-Credit -Aton, a -wholly -owned subsidiary of Italys Uni-Credit bank, -hired eight new analysts in the past year, but, after defections, its total head count grew by just two, to 14. -Were in a hot market where there is a lot of competition for qual-ity analysts, says Ben -Carey, 36, Moscow--based co--director of Rus-sian -equity research at UniCredit -Aton, whose team tracks 120 com-panies, 15 more than last year. People are prepared to invest a lot of -money for -equity -research.
Despite the best efforts by domestic firms to dominate the Rus-sian market, -its too soon to count out the -global firms. Deutsches co-head of research, Yaroslav Lis-sovolik, 34, says that last month he replaced all of the senior analysts poached by VTB drawing from rivals -Alfa Bank, UBS and Uni-Credit -Aton, among others and he plans to hire three or four more junior analysts by the end of this month, for a total of 20.
Finding those analysts may not be -easy. The competition is really growing, says Alexei Morozov, 31, a former metals and mining analyst who became head of Rus-sian -equity research for UBS in Moscow in August, after longtime strategist and head of research Alasdair Breach announced he was leaving the firm to join a hedge fund. Investors are demanding more high--quality research. There are more companies, and they are disclosing more -information.
Last year 34 Russian companies raised $29 billion in public offerings, 52.6 percent more than the $19 billion raised in 2006, according to Thomson Financial. Twenty of the offerings, totaling $20 billion, were IPOs, but the secondary offerings are often of more interest to foreign investors. There is often a secondary offering because the stock from the initial offering is illiquid and -only traded locally, so a secondary placement has the effect of becoming an IPO for Western investors, explains Uni-Credits -Carey.
Analysts expect IPOs to increase this year, but not at the rate previously anticipated. How-ever much Rus-sia is well positioned to perform well and be far less affected by the -credit crunch on a relative basis, it will still hurt the capital markets in general, notes Troikas Zani-boni. Last month the firm scaled back its forecast for IPO volume this year, from $38 billion to $26 billion, but that would still represent a healthy increase over 2007.
Foreign direct investment is -also forecast to rise this year, which will help fuel Russias economic development. Deutsches Lissovolik notes that foreign investment rose 62.5 percent last year, to a record $52.5 billion. We forecast the size of FDI inflows in 2008 at $60 billion, which is well within reach -given that in the first quarter FDI inflows -into Rus-sias non-financial sectors reached $17 billion, he says.
If these forecasts are on target, a greater number of investors will be seeking guidance on an -even -higher number of Rus-sian companies this year, making the insights of the All--Russia Research Team more valuable than -ever.
The Best Analysts of the Year
second team Victoria Grankina Troika
third team Alexei Krivoshapko Deutsche
runners-up Anna Kochkina UniCredit Aton; Svetlana Sukhanova UBS
For providing what one investor calls the most comprehensive coverage of the consumer sector, Natalya Zagvozdina captures her fifth straight No. 1 win. -Money man-agers -also praise the Renaissance Capital analysts unwavering support of dairy product producer Wimm-Bill-Dann Foods. Zagvozdina, 36, first recommended the stock in June 2006, based on the companys strong management team, and high-lighted the call throughout 2007. The share price shot up 63.6 percent last year but started to slip in January 2008, owing to weak fourth--quarter results and global economic uncertainty. Zagvozdina remained resolute, saying the stock would recover quickly, and it did. By April 30 it was up 13.2 percent from its mid-March low, for a gain of 191.1 percent since Zagvozdinas original call, outperforming the sector by 120.8 percentage points. Rising one notch to second place is Troika Dialogs Victoria Grankina, who publishes brilliant research pieces, according to one port-folio man-ager. In February 2007, Grankina urged investors to buy X5 Retail Group, Russias biggest supermarket chain, on strong growth prospects. By April 30, 2008, its global depositary receipts were up 41.8 percent. Down a slot to third is Alexei Krivoshapko, who left Deutsche Bank in April for Prosperity Capital Management, Russias biggest asset management firm; Krivoshapko also ranks second in Real Estate. In December 2006 he down-graded -baby food producer Lebedyansky to hold, based on rising costs and increased competition. By the end of April 2008, the stock was down 0.9 percent, compared with the sectors advance of 22.7 percent.
second team Andrew Keeley Troika
third team Rustam Botashev UniCredit Aton
runner-up Bob Kommers UBS
David Nangle repeats in first place after deftly navigating a year full of initial public offerings. There were only two properly listed banks at the start of last year, and now we have five under coverage, explains Nangle, 32. In November, despite carnage in the financial ser-vices sector, the Renaissance Capital analyst urged investors to buy -into Bank St. Petersburg, which raised $274 million in a domestic IPO. Good call. The stock began trading in December and by the end of April had risen 8.7 percent, against a sector decline of 22.9 percent. Clients appreciate the analysts ability to stay on top of developments in a tumultuous year. I like Nangles nonstop commentary on news and events, says one buy--sider. Troika Dialogs Andrew Keeley vaults from -runner-up to second place. He thinks differently, reports one money manager. Case in point: In February 2007, Keeley broke with the consensus and told investors to buy Bank Vozrozhdenie for its well-run, regional banking exposure and great domestic funding base. By the end of April 2008, the banks shares had outperformed the sector by 6.8 percentage points. Holding steady in third place is Rustam Botashev of UniCredit Aton, praised by -money man-agers for a number of prescient downgrades. In October, Botashev advised clients to sell Kazakhstans Halyk Savings Bank, deeming it -overly dependent on international funding. By April 30 the stock had slid 14.4 percent.
second team Gennady Sukhanov Troika
third team Elena Sakhnova Deutsche
runner-up Tatiana Kapoustina UniCredit Aton
Vast local experience, according to one investor, helps Renaissance Capitals Marina Alexeenkova clinch the top spot for a second year in a row. Alexeenkova, 34, channeled this experience to issue a number of shrewd calls last year in the mineral fertilizers subsector, whose profitability is rapidly increasing, she says. One such call was a June buy recommendation on Uralkali, Russias leading potash producer, at $2.20. By April 30 the share price had shot up to $10.45, a whopping 375.0 percent gain that easily outstripped the sectors 60.0 percent advance. Debuting in second place is Gennady Sukhanov, who impresses clients with his innovative ideas and ability to think outside the box. In January 2007 the Troika Dialog analyst urged investors to buy Railwaycar-Building Works Tver, Russias biggest manufacturer of railway passenger cars, saying that demand was poised to surge after a decade of underinvestment. He was right. By the end of April 2008, the stock had steamed ahead 140.0 percent. Repeating in third is Elena Sakhnova, who left Deutsche Bank in April to become a transportation and engineering analyst at VTB. Credited by one supporter with sound conservatism, Sakhnova issued a buy recommendation on automaker Severstal--Auto in February 2007, at $32.85, on rising demand. By April 30, 2008, the stock had raced ahead 91.8 percent, to $63.00.
Metals & Mining
second team Dmitry Kolomytsyn UniCredit Aton
third team Sergey Donskoy Troika
runner-up Alexander Pukhaev Deutsche
Robert Edwards, in first place for a fifth year running, is the man you need to talk to before contemplating a trade, declares one Renaissance Capital client. Edwards, 41, talked up the virtues of Raspadskaya in April 2007, predicting that the coking--coal producer would benefit from rising worldwide demand for steel. Two months later the com-pany was targeted for take-over by steel producer Evraz Group, and the analysts already good idea turned spectacular, according to one happy investor. Although the deal fell apart in March, Raspadskaya shares remained white-hot, gaining 262.7 percent from Edwardss call through April 30. During the same period the sector advanced 52.0 percent. Holding steady in second place is Dmitry Kolomytsyn, who left Uni-Credit -Aton last month for Morgan Stanley. Kolomytsyn made his name by being extremely proactive in reaching out to us with winning stock picks, says one -money man-ager, citing Kolomytsyns August recommendation to buy integrated metal producers Mechel and Evraz, on increasing demand. By April 30 the global depositary receipts and shares, respectively, had soared 242.1 and 150.0 percent. Sergey Donskoy covered Financial Services for Troika Dialog through 2006 (and finished in second place that year) before moving to Metals & Mining, where he captures third place. Also a fan of Mechel, Donskoy recommended its American depositary receipts in January 2007, at $25.71, on soaring nickel prices. By the end of April 2008, the stock price had skyrocketed 467.1 percent, to $145.80.
Oil & Gas
second team Oleg Maximov Troika
third team Pavel Kushnir Deutsche
runners-up Artem Konchin UniCredit Aton; Dmitriy Lukashov UBS
Conviction, imagination and insight are traits one -client attributes to Alexander -Burgansky, who captures first-team honors for the first time in this sector; he was ranked No. 1 in Utilities in 2005 and 2006. In January, Burgansky notified investors that Rosneft Oil Co. presented a good buying opportunity because broad market volatility had beaten up its stock more than its peers. By April 30 the share price had climbed 25.8 percent and outperformed the sector by 15.4 percentage points. Burgansky, 35, earned a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Moscow State University and joined Renaissance Capital in 2004, after six years as a health care analyst at -Credit -Suisse First Boston in London. Moving up a notch to second place, Oleg -Maximov wins praise for guiding Troika Dialog clients through what one -money man-ager calls the fog of risks and rumors related to big Rus-sian oil. Reasoning that concerns about corporate governance at Gazprom Neft were overstated, Maximov upgraded the integrated oil giants stock from hold to buy in June, after the companys first--quarter operating results demonstrated its strong profita-bility; by the end of April, the stock had gushed 54.3 percent. Debuting in third is Deutsche Banks Pavel Kushnir, who is especially talented when it comes to finding new opportunities, says one port-folio man-ager. One such opportunity was Kazakh crude producer KazMunaiGas, which Kushnir recommended in March 2007, at $18.60, on rising demand. By April 30 its global depositary receipts had sizzled up 58.1 percent, to $29.40.
second team Alexei Krivoshapko Deutsche
third team Elena Rogovina UBS
runners-up Rustam Botashev UniCredit Aton; Victoria Grankina Troika
Money managers say -Alexei Yazykov, who takes top honors in this new sector, provides uniform and transparent valuation models and well--developed metrics. Those metrics prompted the Renaissance Capital analyst to direct clients to XXI Century Investments, a Ukraine--based manager of shopping centers and other commercial properties; Yazykov named the stock one of his top picks for 2007, based on strong growth prospects, and stood firm -even as the share price plunged 31.7 percent from -early November through late January amid market turmoil. By the end of April, the stock had recovered most of its losses, to enjoy a 12-month return of 64.0 percent, leaving the broad markets 17.0 percent gain in the dust. Yazykov, 39, earned a bachelors degree in modern Rus-sian history from Voronezh State University in 1993 and worked as a consumer analyst at -Aton Capital Group before joining RenCap in 2006. In second place is Alexei -Krivoshapko, who moved from Deutsche Bank to Prosperity Capital Management in April; -hes also the No. 3 Consumer analyst. Investors hail as brilliant and on target his advice to shun the May 2007 initial public offering of property manager AFI Development, calling the global depositary receipts overpriced at $14.00. By April 30 the price had plummeted 48.4 percent, to $7.23. Praised by one investor for being the first in the market to initiate coverage of a new, developing sector, Elena Rogovina finishes third. In May 2007 the UBS analyst urged investors to buy into the IPO of real estate developer PIK Group advice that proved correct and helped us greatly, crows one happy client. GDRs began trading in early June and, despite market turbulence, gained 10.2 percent through -April 30.
second team Nadezhda Golubeva UniCredit Aton
third team Alexei Yakovitsky VTB
runner-up Andrei Bogdanov Troika
On the first team for a fourth straight year, Alexander Kazbegi of Renaissance Capital is the most accomplished financial analyst in the sector period, insists one -money man-ager. Kazbegi, 46, up-graded the global depositary receipts of Golden Telecom from hold to buy in August, at $43.79, believing the telecommunications ser-vices provider would enjoy strong revenue growth. The call proved correct. The stock had soared 56.5 percent, to $68.53, by December, when Vimpel-Communications, the nations second--biggest mobile phone operator, announced plans to acquire the company for $4.3 billion, or $105 a share; the deal closed in March. In December, Kazbegi down-graded Comstar United TeleSystems to sell, at $11.25, on the -fixed-line carriers limited growth potential. By April 30 the stock had slid to $10.30, a decline of 8.4 percent. Clients say Nadezhda -Golubeva of Uni-Credit Aton, who rises one notch to second, offers great access to management and quick responses to market changes and client requests. In -July, Golu-beva initiated coverage of Armada, an information technology ser-vices provider, with a buy recommendation, at $15.50, citing rising demand. By April 30 the stock had surged 37.1 percent, to $21.25. During the same period the sector sank 6.2 percent. Alexei Yakovitsky, who falls from second to third, moved from Deutsche Bank to VTB in March. Described as prescient by one investor, -Yakovitsky was bullish on Rus-sian mobile companies and called high target prices that proved incredibly accurate, according to one -money man-ager. One example: In November, with Vimpel-Coms American depositary receipts trading at $30.45 a share, Yakovitsky set a 12-month target price of $43. VimpelCom shares reached that -level in late December.
second team Dmitry Skryabin UniCredit Aton
third team Alexander Kotikov Troika
runner-up Dmitry Bulgakov Deutsche
In 2006, as an analyst with Deutsche UFG, Derek Weaving ranked third in this sector; he moved to Renaissance Capital in March 2007 and this year claims top honors for the first time. The London--based analyst produces research that is both revelatory and actionable, according to one client, and impresses investors with timely updates on the breakup of gigantic, state-run Unified Energy System. In September he warned clients that the impending global depositary receipt IPO of UES subsidiary Second Generation Co. of Electric Energy Wholesale Market, or OGK-2, was overpriced, and the market agreed: Through April the utilitys share price had plunged 43.5 percent; during the same period the sector lost 20.4 percent. Weaving, 56, is a 1971 graduate of Britannia Royal Naval College with a degree in astro-navigation and missile guidance. Although he slips to second place, Dmitry Skryabin con-tinues to impress investors with what one describes as old--fashioned strategic calls. In November the Uni-Credit Aton analyst down-graded all five of the OGK power--generating companies to sell, believing they were due for a cold bath. By April 30 the companies had fallen 30.4 percent, on average, considerably worse than the sectors 21.9 percent tumble. Alexander Kotikov of Troika Dialog, who debuts in third, anticipates developments instead of simply explaining the recent past, observes one backer. Kotikov began publishing reports on hydro-electric generator Rus-Hydro in -July, immediately after word came down that UES would be rolling those assets into a stand--alone com-pany. Rus-Hydro went public in February and by April 30 had outperformed the sector by 8.4 percentage points.
second team Yaroslav Lissovolik Deutsche
third team Katya Malofeeva Renaissance
After slipping to second place last year, Troika Dialogs -Evgeny Gavrilenkov reclaims the top spot and wins praise for what one client calls great presentation of his views. Gavrilenkov, 53, urged investors to avoid financial ser-vices stocks because, he says, with inflation at 14 to 15 percent and a strong ruble, -its not an environment where the banking sector does well. He was right: The sector tumbled 22.9 percent in the 12 months ended April 30. Instead, Gavrilenkov told clients to focus on companies that would benefit from the governments 40 percent increase in infrastructure spending. Rus-sias basic--materials sector soared 56.0 percent in the 12 months -ended April 30, far outpacing the 17.0 percent broad-market advance. Hailed by one buy--sider as a young guy with an analytic mind -whos -very polished, Yaroslav -Lissovolik -rises one notch to second. The Deutsche Bank economist advised clients of the strong growth prospects for integrated metals producer Evraz Group, whose global depositary receipts shot up 194.3 percent for the 12 months ended April 30, and fertilizer manufacturer Silvinit, up 387.0 percent. Renaissance Capital economist Vladimir Pantyushin (ranked No. 1 last year) left the firm in -July to join a real estate consulting firm and was replaced by Katya Malofeeva, who debuts in third. Investors praise Malofeevas recommendation to invest in metals and mining stocks, owing to rising worldwide demand for commodities. The sector outperformed the broad market by 39.0 percentage points for the year -ended April 30.
second team Kingsmill Bond Troika
third team Alexei Zabotkin Deutsche
runners-up Julia Bushueva UniCredit Aton; Christopher Weafer UralSib
Hes very well organized and does a great job in terms of presentation, says one client of Renaissance Capitals Roland Nash, who takes top honors for a fifth consecutive year. Nash, 35, recommended diversified metals and mining companies last year as -likely beneficiaries of rising government spending on infrastructure. Among his top picks were Evraz Group (global depositary receipts up 194.3 percent for the 12 months -ended April 30), Mechel (stock up 423.0 percent) and Novolipetsk Steel (shares up 74.1 percent). Kingsmill Bond, who moved to -Troika Dialog in -July from Deutsche Bank, debuts in second. Bond -also recommended infrastructure companies, but he steered investors away from utilities, which he said had gotten ahead of themselves; the sector fell 23.1 percent, compared with a 17.0 percent rise in the -broader market, in the year -ended April 30. He has good insights, and his contrarian call on the power sector as overvalued is proving correct, notes one backer. Alexei Zabotkin, who -rises from -runner-up to third, is a -really smart guy who understands the realities of Rus--sia, says one -money man-ager. Now chief investment officer at United Capital Partners, an asset management firm, after leaving Deutsche Bank in March, Zabotkin dubbed Mobile TeleSystems, Russias biggest wireless carrier, his top pick for 2007 for providing exposure to the vibrant consumption growth throughout the sector. MTS shares skyrocketed 78.1 percent last year.
second team Alexey Demkin Trust IB
third team Alexey Bulgakov Renaissance
runners-up Mikhail Galkin MDM; Maxim Raskosnov Renaissance
Debuting at No. 1 is Renaissance Capitals Petr Grishin, who took over coverage after last years top--ranked researcher, Pavel Mamai, moved to Lehman Brothers in August. Grishin distinguishes himself with his superb understanding of sectors he covers, says one -money man-ager. In December, after agricultural commodities trader Euro-service failed to fully pay its 1.5 billion--ruble ($61 million) bond on the scheduled maturity date, investors began selling off at close to 40 percent of par. Grishin told clients to hang on; the com-pany was illiquid but solvent, and the debt would be repaid. He was right it was repaid within a week. Grishin, 30, earned a masters degree in economics from Budapests Central European University in 2000 and was a municipal bond researcher for Rosbank before joining RenCap in 2005. Alexey Demkin of Trust Investment Bank, who moves up one notch to second, has good access to com-pany managements, and his stories are always interesting, investors say. In December, Demkin dubbed Bank CenterCredit, Kazakhstans sixth--biggest bank, a -likely acquisition target; at the time, the banks February 2011 Euro-bonds were trading at 84.74 percent of par. In January, South Koreas Kookmin Bank announced that it would buy a 30 percent stake in BCC, and by April 30 the bonds were trading at 98.31 percent of par. Down one slot to third is Alexey Bulgakov, who moved to RenCap from Aton in August. Last fall, Bulgakov told clients that the worldwide credit crunch would hit Kazakh banks particularly hard, owing to their high levels of external debt. Credit default swap spreads for Kazakhstans commercial banks widened by 500 basis points, on average, between September and April 30. I find Bulgakovs approach for analysis logical, simple and useful, says one -buy-sider.
second team Pavel Pikulev Trust IB
third team Nikolay Podguzov Renaissance
runners-up Mikhail Galkin MDM; -Alexander Kudrin Troika
Repeating at No. 1, Alexei Moisseev of Renaissance Capital is praised by one investor for writing small and focused research notes, which contain a clear view and are to the point. Moisseev, 35, published one such report in October in which he informed clients that the ruble appreciation -story is probably -over, owing to the rapid contraction of the nations account surplus and the governments -strongly positive -money-supply growth rates. At the time, the ruble was trading at 29.6 to the dollar, and as of April 30 it was vir-tually unchanged. -Pavel Pikulev of Trust Investment Bank rises from -runner-up to second, thanks in part to his fast reaction to -local and -global events, according to one enthusiastic supporter. Last August, as the subprime mortgage -crisis was unfolding in the U.S., Pikulev urged investors to buy Rus-sias benchmark 30-year bonds. It was clear that the Federal Reserve Board would cut target rates aggressively and the U.S. Treasury yield decline would support the prices of high--quality bonds, Pikulev says. He was right. By the end of April, Rus-sia 30 bonds had gained 6.6 percentage points, to trade at 115 percent of par. Down a rung at third is Nikolay Podguzov, whose thorough analyses guide him to untrivial conclusions and interesting trade ideas, according to one investor. In January the RenCap strategist told clients to short long--dated OFZ bonds, reasoning that the government would curtail the release of new issues in favor of alternative financing sources, with the result that yields would surge by 20 to 40 basis points in the first quarter. By March 31 yields had risen 30 basis points.