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Consumer: Autos & Auto Parts 2008

Parked in first place for a second straight year is Himanshu Patel of ­JPMorgan Securities. “When I talk to the auto companies, they typi­cally point me to him as someone who understands their story,” says one supporter.

Himanshu Patel

Himanshu Patel

Himanshu Patel

­JPMorgan

SECOND TEAM

Brian Johnson Barclays

THIRD TEAM

John Murphy Merrill Lynch

RUNNERS-UP

Rod Lache Deutsche

Parked in first place for a second straight year is Himanshu Patel of ­JPMorgan Securities. “When I talk to the auto companies, they typi­cally point me to him as someone who understands their story,” says one supporter. Patel, 33, down­graded Ford ­Motor Co. to sell in April, at $8.40, after declining sales had prompted valuation concerns about the Dearborn, ­Michigan–based auto­maker. By mid-­September the stock had skidded 41.5 percent, to $4.91, compared with a sector loss of 21.0 percent. Also in April, Patel told clients to sell Akron, ­Ohio–based Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., on the belief that higher materials costs would put pressure on earnings. The stock had lost 32.5 percent by mid-­September. Newcomer Brian Johnson, who ­moved to Barclays Capital after its parent acquired Lehman Brothers last month, speeds to the No. 2 spot, thanks in part to his insights into the implications of labor agreements. “That really stood out for me,” says one ­money manager. Johnson is ­also known for making long-term calls and standing behind them despite short-term disappointments. Case in point: BorgWarner, which he recommended in June, at $49.03, because he thought the Auburn Hills, ­Michigan–based transmission-­component manu­facturer would benefit from innovative technology that reduces auto emissions. Although the share price had slumped to $41.26 by mid-­September, Johnson is holding fast. John Murphy of Merrill Lynch, who debuts in third, “was the most aggressive at identifying everything we should short ­very ­early,” says one hedge fund fan. Murphy’s recognition that Detroit’s American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings would face a slowdown following General Motors Corp.’s production cuts was especially prescient. After his down­grade to sell in August 2007, the stock took a 68.6 percent nosedive through mid-­September 2008.

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