Industries: Metals & Mining
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Industries: Metals & Mining

A lot has changed since the last time Merrill Lynch topped this sector, in 2006.

Felipe Hirai & team  BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research

The buy side says: “Felipe Hirai is not afraid to make contrarian calls.”

A lot has changed since the last time Merrill Lynch topped this sector, in 2006. The firm is now part of BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research, and the team is led by Felipe Hirai, 31, who makes his first appearance at No. 1; the New York–based trio finished second last year.

The analysts impress clients with a broad-­based, global perspective: “With commodities and materials stocks, you can’t be sitting in Latin America with blinders on,” observes one buy-side backer. In November the team downgraded the ADRs of Brazilian steelmaker Gerdau to sell, at $16.39, on valuation and an expected slowdown in earnings growth. In June, after the receipts had slipped 19.3 percent, to $13.23, and trailed the sector by 17.1 percentage points, the analysts upgraded them to neutral, on valuation.

Since then the ADRs rebounded 10.7 percent, to $14.64, through July. Hirai, who also captains the No. 3 team in Pulp & Paper, was a metals and mining analyst at São Paulo–based asset manager Hedging-­Griffo before joining Merrill in 2006; he received a bachelor’s degree in business at Fundação Getulio Vargas in 2001.


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