WSJ: Stock Analysts Tell All!

BREAKING NEWS: stock analysts are not necessarily working in your best interest (unless you’re a hedge fund)!

WSJ: Stock Analysts Tell All!

Interesting report highlighted by the Wall Street Journal that basically quantifies something you probably already knew…

  • Asked who was their most important group of clients, 81.5% of analysts picked “hedge funds.” Only 13.3% chose “retail brokerage clients.”
  • Fewer than a quarter of the analysts said that the “accuracy and timeliness” of their earnings forecasts were very important to their compensation. Only 35% said that the profitability of their stock recommendations was crucial in determining how much they earned. Their “standing in analyst rankings or broker votes,” however – essentially how they score in media surveys, “broker votes” and other annual popularity contests among clients – was very important in shaping compensation for 67% of the analysts.
  • Approximately one in four analysts has been pressured by a supervisor to lower earnings forecasts, presumably because that makes the forecasts easier for companies to beat – thereby pleasing investors and companies alike.
  • Only half of analysts said that primary research, like discussions with customers and suppliers, was very useful in forecasting earnings or recommending stocks.
  • Nearly 40% of analysts said that it was very likely that they would lose access to management or be “frozen out” of question-and-answer sessions on conference calls if they issued an earnings forecast well below the Wall Street average.
  • More than two thirds said that private phone calls with management were far and away the most important factor in their work.
  • It’s customary for analysts to have private phone discussions – one-on-one – with a company’s chief financial officer shortly after the company’s public conference call to discuss its quarterly earnings.
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