These Are Investors’ Favorite European Research Providers
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These Are Investors’ Favorite European Research Providers

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Two firms sit atop II’s Developed Europe Research Team.

Investing in Europe has gotten a little more certain, according to the region’s top sell-side research providers.

“Last September, equity markets were at relative lows and recession in Europe seemed inevitable. One year on, the impact of the re-opening of China has been more muted but the consumer has proven to be far more resilient than many had expected,” said Theepan Jothilingam, head of EMEA research at BNP Paribas Exane. “And talk of a recession has turned to expectations of a soft landing, especially with inflation now appearing on a glidepath towards central bank targets. The debate will continue to rage on.”

While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to have an impact on commodity markets and the outlook for inflation, the volatility stemming from the war has been less pronounced in 2023 versus 2022, Jothilingam said. Fears of a cold winter without Russian gas were abated when Europe took steps to reduce its dependence on Russian energy and the European Union’s reserves of natural gas hit a historic high in August.

When the Russia-Ukraine conflict began last year, there was lots of uncertainty around its economic impact, confirmed Eric Lopez, head of EMEA equity research at BofA Securities. “We hit a low point in Q3 and Q4 when gas prices reached an all-time high, but good storage levels and a warm winter put downward pressure on gas prices, helping to restore some confidence around the outlook for European economies,” he said. “Inflation has been a key driver for financial markets and has led to multiple rate hikes in most developed economies.”


Sectors like basic resources, energy, and real estate have been the most challenging this year, while most others have been recovering, according to Lopez. “Developed Europe markets recovered much of their losses in 2022 as energy pressures and global recession fears eased,” he said.


And two research teams were once again lockstep with the buy-side in Institutional Investor’s annual Developed Europe Research Team survey. BofA Securities, defending its 2022 title, this year shares the pole position with BNP Paribas Exane, based on responses from almost 5,500 investment professionals at more than 1,800 institutions.


Both teams captured 38 total team positions in a competitive field. BNP Paribas Exane captured the most first team positions with 9, while BofA Securities secured 8.


JPMorgan Chase and UBS repeated their third and fourth place finishes, respectively. Barclays rounded out the top five, displacing Morgan Stanley.


In line with other II surveys, the leaderboard was weighted by each survey respondent’s European commission spending. An additional leaderboard weighted by assets under management was also produced, which nearly mirrored the commission-weighted ranking.


“We support our clients the only way we know how — being visible, available, and producing top-quality content with a focus on long-term bottom-up fundamentals,” Jothilingam said. “This has been doubly important over the past 12 months, a period in which outperforming the market has been difficult for everyone.”


Two years since Exane’s 2021 merger with BNP Paribas, Jothilingam reported that the benefits are still being reaped via access to a larger platform and resources. “Our ability to now leverage BNP Paribas’s top macro and commodity research — BNP Paribas Market 360 — has allowed us to collaborate in ways we had been unable to do previously,” he said.


For BofA Securities, Lopez reported that the firm’s objective remains the same: “To have a high mindshare with our clients via our research product and corporate access. This requires insight, clarity of thought, and high conviction. Clients continue to want strong stock-specific ideas within their macro-economic framework.”


“It depends very much on our people and their desire to be the best in their field,” he added. For investors, there continue to be concerns about the strength of the global economy, led by the U.S., and the sustainability of key drivers such as fiscal stimulus and abnormally large order backlogs post Covid. “We try and help clients by relentlessly focusing on these key issues both at a macro and at a stock level,” Lopez said. “Our macro teams continue to adopt a cautious stance but whether positive or negative, there are always good stock ideas to be found.”


Outside of Russia and Ukraine, Jothilingam reported that markets are paying close attention to U.S.-China trade and any potential sanctions or protectionism that may emerge if the political relationship deteriorates. The 2024 Presidential election in the U.S. will also impact fiscal policy.


Additionally, generative artificial intelligence has also been a key theme that has dominated the headlines, with large U.S. tech names like Nvidia, Microsoft, and Alphabet reaping the positive benefits of rising investor interest. Earlier this year, 30 of BNP Paribas Exane’s industry teams collaborated to write on generative AI. “We assessed the scope of the technology to kickstart a potential productivity supercycle, the implications for European and U.S. GDP and winners and losers at a company level,” he said. “We have had an incredible response from investors, and it has since become the best-read piece of research in our history.”


Along with the developed Europe ranking, II also released its annual survey that ranks the top firms focused on small- and mid-cap stocks listed in the U.K.


Investec improved on its second-place finish to take No. 1 in this year’s U.K. Small & Mid-cap Research Team. Numis Securities also improved one spot to take second, while last year’s winner Peel Hunt rounded out the top three, based on the votes of 350 investment professionals across 233 firms.

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