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Technology: Software

Heather Bellini, 38, who claims top honors for a third year running, “has consistently focused on the cash generation of the large software companies,” which is a more accurate indicator of valuations than earnings reports, explains one impressed investor.

Heather Bellini

Heather Bellini

UBS

SECOND TEAM

Brent Thill Citi

THIRD TEAM

Charles Di Bona Sanford C. Bernstein

RUNNERS-UP

Sarah Friar Goldman Sachs ; Israel Hernandez ­ Barclays ; Kasthuri Rangan Merrill Lynch

Heather Bellini, 38, who claims top honors for a third year running, “has consistently focused on the cash generation of the large software companies,” which is a more accurate indicator of valuations than earnings reports, explains one impressed investor. The UBS researcher recommended ­security- and antivirus-­software manufacturer Symantec Corp. in January, at $15.44, on improving margins. By mid-­September shares of the Cupertino, ­California–based company had zipped to $20.57, a gain of 33.2 percent. During the same period the sector fell 14.7 percent. Brent Thill of ­Citi jumps from ­runner-up to the No. 2 spot. “He knows the industry, technology and product drivers better than ­any ­other analyst,” one buy-­sider declares. Thill launched coverage of Acti­vision Blizzard last October, at a split-­adjusted $11.35, singing the praises of the ­Santa Monica, ­California–based entertainment-­software com­pany’s new Guitar ­Hero game. Guitar ­Hero proved to be an unabashed success, and Acti­vision shares had soared 54.3 percent, to $17.51, by mid-­September. Although he slips one rung to third place, Charles ­­Di ­Bona continues to earn acclaim for what one client calls his ­“very detailed work on the companies under his coverage universe, including his models and overview of the space.” In March the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst upgraded the American depositary shares of SAP to outperform, owing to the German education-­software developer’s aggressive acquisition plans. By mid-­September the shares had outpaced the sector by 8.6 percentage points.

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