Who Benefits from Analyst “Top Picks”?
Following the Global Settlement, analysts extensively use a top pick designation to highlight their highest conviction best ideas. Such a designation enables analysts to provide greater granularity of information, but it can potentially be influenced by conflicts of interest. Examining a comprehensive sample of top picks, we find, even though top picks are more likely to be investment banking clients, they have greater investment value, attract greater media and investor attention, and lead to more trading than buy recommendations. Bad top picks are more likely to be influenced by strategic objectives and have adverse consequences for analysts. Institutions, but not retail investors, discern between good and bad top picks.
We are grateful to Leandro Sanz for comments. René Stulz consults and provides expert testimony on issues involving financial institutions that may employ analysts. None of his current or recent consulting concerns analysts. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.