Wendy Nicholson Citi
Ali Dibadj Sanford C. Bernstein
John Faucher JPMorgan ; William Schmitz Deutsche
An “uncannily good feel for stocks,” according to one investor, helps Lauren Lieberman retain the crown for a second straight year. The 34-year-old analyst, at Barclays Capital since its parent acquired Lehman Brothers last month, elevated Avon Products to top pick in September 2007 because she thought the New York–based cosmetics maker’s reinvigorated brand, coupled with targeted and analytically driven reinvestment spending, would lead to higher sales and improved margins. In mid-September 2008, Avon’s shares were up a rosy 29.1 percent, well ahead of the sector’s 9.9 percent advance. Citi’s Wendy Nicholson holds steady at No. 2 for a second consecutive year. Over the past year, Nicholson has reiterated her buy call on Estée Lauder Cos., citing the New York–based skin-care-products company’s push into emerging markets, particularly China, India and Russia. For the 12 months ended mid-September, the stock advanced 34.2 percent. Nicholson “has a first-rate understanding of the evolving picture for the big multinational HPC companies in emerging markets,” says one money manager. Ali Dibadj of Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. debuts in third place. Clients praise him for his “detailed research” and “thorough coverage” of St. Louis–based battery maker Energizer Holdings, which he initiated in May with a buy recommendation, at $76.24, on improved profitability. Since then the stock has kept going and going, reaching $88.38 in mid-September, for a gain of 15.9 percent.