Reassessing the Returns to Analysts' Stock Recommendations

Reassessing the Returns to Analysts' Stock Recommendations

By
Brad Barber, Reuven Lehavy, Maureen McNichols, Brett Trueman
Financial Analyst Journal . March
2003, Vol. 59, Issue 2, Pages 88-96

 After a string of years in which security analysts’ top stock picks significantly outperformed their pans, the years 2000 and 2001 were disasters. During those two years, the stocks least favored by analysts earned an average annualized market-adjusted return of 13.44 percent whereas the stocks most highly recommended underperformed the market by 7.06 percent, a return difference of more than 20 percentage points. This pattern prevailed during most months of 2000 and 2001 and was observed for both technology and nontechnology stocks. Additional analysis suggests that these poor results were driven, at least in part, by analysts’ tendency to recommend small-capitalization growth stocks during those years, despite the fall of those stocks from favor. Whether or not this preference was motivated by a desire to attract and retain the most lucrative investment banking clients, ourfindings should add to the debate over the usefulness of analyst stock recommendations. They should also serve to alert researchers to the possibility that excluding 2000 and 2001 from their sample periods could have a significant impact on any conclusions they draw about analyst stock recommendations.