Roland Nash Renaissance
second teamKingsmill Bond Troika
third teamChristopher Weafer UralSib
Capturing the crown for a sixth consecutive year, Roland Nash at Renaissance Capital "is an experienced Russia watcher who doesnt get too carried away, either on the negative or positive side," marvels one money manager, adding: "Hes logical and keeps his head." In mid-December Nash, 36, turned bullish on equities, predicting that Russia would be home to the worlds best-performing stock market in 2009 (having been one of the worst performers in 2008, when the benchmark Russian Trading System index plunged 72.4 percent). His reasoning? "Although oil prices had fallen, it was not as bad as in 1998, when banks stopped working and government didnt know what it was doing. Government is facing up to the problem, the foreign debt situation is not nearly as bad, and companies are paying each other," he explains. The RTS index bottomed out in January, at 498.20, and by the end of April had surged 67.2 percent, to 832.87. In second place for a second straight year is Troika Dialog strategist Kingsmill Bond , who urged clients in February to buy Sberbank. Last falls market rout had left the share price of Russias biggest bank at an attractive $0.41; through April the stock more than doubled, to $0.84. Bond also impressed investors with a January research note in which he declared that bonds are the new equity. "That was a very interesting idea, to buy bonds, rather than equities, on a risk-return basis hes right," observes one money manager. The analyst also wins praise for what one portfolio manager describes as "well-attended, well-organized" conference calls. After spending last year in the runner-up position, Christopher Weafer of UralSib Financial Corp. reclaims third place. "He is always compelling and ferociously independent he stands out from the crowd," cheers one buy-sider. In a December strategy report titled "Darkness Before Dawn," Weafer predicted that the RTS index would sink to 500, then rally. When the index fell just below 500 in late January, "I issued a reminder that this is the bottom," he says. The index has been rising ever since, and Weafer predicts it will reach 1,200 this summer.