Brent Thill Citi
Charles Di Bona Sanford C. Bernstein
Sarah Friar Goldman Sachs ; Israel Hernandez Barclays ; Kasthuri Rangan Merrill LynchHeather 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, Californiabased 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, Californiabased entertainment-software companys 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 developers aggressive acquisition plans. By mid-September the shares had outpaced the sector by 8.6 percentage points.