October 10, 2018

Ho-hum, Another Institutional Investor All-American Beauty Pageant

Source: Integrity Research
By: 

Ho-hum, Another Institutional Investor All-American Beauty Pageant

By Sanford Bragg October 10, 2018

As with the latest Extel survey in Europe, the 2018 Institutional Investor All-American Research Rankings show only minor changes in the research pecking order.  II’s lead article had the appropriate headline “This Story Might Be Boring” as JP Morgan continued to dominate the rankings.

J.P. Morgan solidified its hold on the lead position, adding four newly ranked analysts and deepening the gap with second-place Bank of America Merrill Lynch.  J.P. Morgan has held the first position for last six years except for 2015 when BAML briefly upended it.  Morgan Stanley edged Evercore ISI for third place.

Gainers

Citi continued its meteoric rise, as it added five ranked analysts to move from 7th last year to 5th this year.  The results will please Citi’s management, which has set a goal of boosting its equity franchise to the fifth position.

After a brief setback last year, RBC resumed its upward march, adding five ranked analysts to rise from 10th last year to 8th this year.  Wells Fargo added the most ranked analysts, doubling the number from nine to eighteen over the year and rising from 12th ranking last year to 9th this year.  Credit Suisse ended its five-year decline by adding four ranked analysts to boost its standing from 15th to 12th.

Losers

Barclays and UBS each lost six ranked analysts, slipping from the fourth position last year to sixth this year.  Bernstein and Deutsche Bank each lost four ranked analysts as both firms fell two positions to 10th and 11th respectively.  Goldman Sachs, which has long disdained the research game, fell from 15th to 16th.

Wolfe Research, Strategas Research Partners and Cornerstone Macro remained the most successful boutiques in the survey, as they maintained the same numbers of ranked analysts as the previous year.  Vertical Research debuted with two ranked analysts while Zelman & Associates exited the survey.

Changes Over Five Years

When we examine the change in the number of ranked analysts between 2013 and now, we see that with the sole exception of UBS all the bulge firms have fewer ranked analysts now than five years ago.  JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Citi, have all nearly regained the numbers of ranked analysts they had five years prior.

RBC has been the biggest gainer over the last five years, adding seventeen ranked analysts, followed by Wells Fargo with fifteen additions.  Evercore ISI has added fourteen ranked analysts over the period.   Deutsche Bank has been the biggest loser over the last five years, shedding fifteen ranked analysts.

Our Take

It seems an open question whether success in the II survey has any monetary value other than bragging rights.   A case in point is Evercore ISI, which became one of the top five US research franchises in 2014, according to the All-American poll.  ISI revenues grew 16% that year yet fell the following year when it ascended to third place – and has languished since.

 In contrast, Bernstein Research has lost six All-American ranked analysts over the last five years but revenues in 2017 remained higher than they had been in 2013.

Nevertheless, the ratings beauty pageant continues as JP Morgan, BAML and Morgan Stanley battle at the top of the league, Citi presses to be a top-five player, and RBC and Wells Fargo stretch to make the top ten.  Research remains a mind-share game with rankings continuing to be viewed as an important gauge of success.