Analyst of the year

The role of the analyst has become increasingly important at such an uncertain time in the economy, when everyone is looking for guidance. This category’s nominees all stand out for their impressive foresight in their respective sectors and their revered reputations in the industry. Here is our pick of the analysts truly at the top of their game.

Simon Ward is chief economist at Henderson Global Investors and has studied the financial markets for over 25 years. He makes this year’s list of nominees due to his accurate prediction of the UK’s economic recovery. In numerous forecasts dating as far back as last October, the Cambridge University graduate anticipated a rebound in 2013 and has so far been proved correct. Ward joined Henderson in April 2009, prior to which he held positions at WorldInvest, Lombard Street Research and Julius Baer.

Ian Gordon is well known for his coverage of the five FTSE 100-listed banks. The Hull University graduate gained the inside track on the sector by spending 17 years at Lloyds TSB in a variety of roles including retail and corporate banking. He has spent eight years honing his craft as a banks analyst since then. Particularly impressive research in the past year includes a fairly persistent “buy” call on Barclays, which other analysts later followed, and his well-placed “sell” recommendations on RBS.

Ian Whittaker is Liberum Capital’s lead analyst for the media sector, which he has covered for over 10 years. He previously worked as a senior analyst in the UBS media team and also spent time as a management consultant. Whittaker was particularly ahead of the game on the resurgence of integrated producer and broadcaster ITV, where he stands out for recognising ITV’s potential for growth outside of TV advertising, including retransmission revenues. Other analysts are now scrabbling to follow suit.

Wayne Brown joined Collins Stewart, which was subsequently acquired by Canaccord Genuity, back in December 2010. The South African’s stellar moment in the past year was recommending high street fashion retailer Supergroup just after its last profit warning. Whereas other analysts were deterred from the stock, Brown recognised that the company was investing in its management team, infrastructure and design and took a longer-term view. Since then the firm has had eight quarters of sales growth – point proved.

Michael Widmer leads the research coverage in metals markets at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, having previously covered metals at BNP Paribas and Lehman Brothers. The feather in Widmer’s cap this year is his predictions on gold. Widmer recognised a lack of interest in gold from investors and on 28 May, when gold traded at $1,400/oz, he correctly predicted that it would fall to $1,200/oz. Then on 1 July, he urged the metal to be supported, after which gold rallied and traded at $1,340/oz.