Consumer: Retailing/Hardlines - 2008
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Consumer: Retailing/Hardlines - 2008

Repeating in first place is Colin McGranahan of Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., dubbed by one portfolio manager as “the go-to man if you want to know the numerical impact of an issue.”

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Colin McGranahan


Colin McGranahan Sanford C. Bernstein


SECOND TEAM


Gary Balter Credit Suisse


THIRD TEAM


Matthew Fassler Goldman Sachs


Repeating in first place is Colin McGranahan of Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., dubbed by one portfolio manager as “the go-to man if you want to know the numerical impact of an issue.” Clients also praise the long-term outlook that McGranahan, 38, has kept despite the ever-shortening focus of many of his peers. In May, McGran­ahan initiated coverage of Auto­Zone with an outperform rating, expecting that the ­auto-parts industry would prove more resilient in an economic slowdown than would other sectors. Shares of the Memphis-­based retailer had zipped from $124.61 to $138.50 by mid-­September, a gain of 11.1 percent that outpaced the broad market’s 11.7 percent decline. ­Gary Balter holds steady in second place and earns accolades for his “candid and often colloquial approach to talking about the companies under his coverage,” in the words of one ­money man­ager. In January the ­Credit ­Suisse analyst upgraded home improvement chains Bed, Bath & Beyond of Union, New Jersey, Home Depot of Atlanta and Lowe’s Cos. of Mooresville, North Carolina, on the belief that the companies’ substantial market-share gains would propel them through a difficult economic environment. In mid-­September the stocks were up 20.3, 16.4 and 23.5 percent, respectively. Matthew Fassler of Goldman, Sachs & Co., who finishes in third place for a second straight year, “does a ­very good job of analyzing the factors that drive consumer spending,” according to one investor. Fassler used this big-­picture perspective in May, when he recommended Radio­Shack Corp., at $15.66, based on its improving management team. Shares of the Fort Worth, ­Texas–based electronics chain had climbed 20.5 percent, to $18.87, by mid-­September.


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Clients say Brian Tunick, who captures the crown for a third consecutive year, provides a “fresh and realistic take on ­what’s going on,” says one invesor.
The “finest consumer analyst on the Street” is how one port­folio manager describes David Adelman of Morgan Stanley, who tops the sector for a sixth year in a row.
For a seventh straight year, Robin Farley of UBS lands in the No. 1 spot. “She is phenomenal on the cruise lines,” says one enthusiastic backer. Higher fuel costs and a decline in consumer spending prompted Farley, 38, to repeatedly highlight her negative stance on Miami-­based Royal Caribbean Cruises, first down­graded to neutral in 2006. In the 12 months ­ended mid-­September, the stock was off 21.8 percent.
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