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Following the advice of equity analysts may be perilous for your profits.

Analysts Prove Perilous as Contrarian Stocks Rise 165%
By Matt Walcoff and Lynn Thomasson – Jan 10, 2011

Following the advice of equity analysts may be perilous for your profits.

Companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index that analysts loved the most rose 73 percent on average since the benchmark for U.S. equity started to recover in March 2009, while those with the fewest “buy” recommendations gained 165 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Now, banks’ favorites include retailers and restaurant chains, the industry that did best in last year’s rally and that are more expensive than the S&P 500 compared with their estimated 2011 profits.

Investors who look at the analysts as a contrary indicator are buying shares of utilities, which pay the highest dividends after telephone stocks, and banks, whose earnings are likely to grow three times as fast as the S&P 500 this year. Don Wordell, a fund manager at Atlanta-based RidgeWorth Capital Management Inc., says equities that Wall Street firms rate lowest are more likely to beat the market.

“When you have a stock that has 15 analysts covering it and it has 15 buys, I can’t imagine it has much outperformance left,” said Wordell, whose $1.64 billion RidgeWorth Mid-Cap Value Equity Fund topped 98 percent of peers in the past five years. “You’ve got a stock that has 15 sells on it, you’re set up there to have some strong outperformance.”

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