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Basic Materials - Metals & Mining: First

Michael ­Gambardella  J.P. Morgan The buy side says: “He always gets in touch at just the right time.”

In his fourth consecutive showing at the top, Michael ­Gambardella, 54, burnishes his reputation for having “a knack for timely stock calls,” as one grateful client puts it. The J.P. Morgan analyst initiated coverage on Molycorp — a Greenwood Village, ­Colorado–based producer of rare earth oxides used in clean-­energy technology — in September 2010 with an overweight, at $19.50. Gambardella dubbed it a low-cost producer of undersupplied, high-­demand commodities. The following month, with the shares up a whopping 73.8 percent, to $33.89, and ahead of the sector by 66.6 percentage points, he downgraded them to neutral, on valuation — too soon, as it turned out. In ­February he raised them back to overweight, at $44.63, when the company expanded its capacity. By the end of August, the stock had surged 26.6 percent, to $56.52, trumping the sector by 42.5 percentage points. “Mike has unusual, value-­added access to line management — not just senior executives like most others rely on — and his research comes from these high-­quality contacts he’s made over the years,” observes one fund manager.

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