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Best Practices for Equity Research Analysts: Essentials for Buy-Side and Sell-Side Analysts [Hardcover]

James Valentine
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 3 2011 0071736387 978-0071736381 1

A real-world guide to becoming a top-performing equity analyst

Praise for Best Practices for Equity Research Analysts:

"Jim Valentine has taken his decades of experience as a highly successful security analyst and written an effective and comprehensive guide to doing the job right. I only wish I had this book by my side throughout my career." -- Byron R. Wien, Vice Chairman, Blackstone Advisory Partners LP

"Given the fast pace and high-pressure nature of the markets, analysts don't have the luxury to make mistakes. James J. Valentine's Best Practices for Equity Research Analysts should be required reading for all new and experienced analysts, particularly those who were not lucky enough to be brought up in the business under a mentor. Valentine can be that mentor." -- Jami Rubin, Managing Director, Global Investment Research, Goldman Sachs

"Jim's book is an excellent window into the world of securities research. Very few works cover the complete life cycle of an analyst and the necessary balance between theory and practice. This is one of them." -- Juan-Luis Perez, Global Director of Research, Morgan Stanley

"Valentine's book doesn’t rehash the basics of finance but covers all the nonacademic topics in terms of how the analysts should manage their time, resources, data, and contacts in order to come up with the best stock picks. This book is required reading for beginning analysts and a must-read for all analysts who want to develop an edge." -- Carl Schweser, Founder of Schweser’s Study Program for the CFA Exam

"Best Practices for Equity Research Analysts is by far the best written and most comprehensive book that I have read on how to become a top-notch analyst. I shouldn't be surprised; it was written by one of the best analysts that Wall Street has ever seen. Every securities firm should require their analysts to read this book." -- Eli Salzmann, Portfolio Manager

Most equity research analysts learn their trade on the job by apprenticing under a senior analyst. However, equity analysts who work for senior producers often have little time or incentive to train new hires, and those who do have the time may not have research skills worth emulating.

Now, Best Practices for Equity Research Analysts offers promising equity research analysts a practical curriculum for mastering their profession. James J. Valentine, a former Morgan Stanley analyst, explains everything today's competitive analyst needs to know, providing practical training materials for buyand sell-side research analysis in the United States and globally.

Conveniently organized for use as a learning tool and everyday reference on the job, Best Practices for Equity Research Analysts covers the five primary areas of the equity research analyst's role:

  • Identifying and monitoring critical factors
  • Creating and updating financial forecasts
  • Deriving price targets or a range of targets
  • Making stock recommendations
  • Communicating stock ideas

Expanding upon material covered in undergraduate courses but written specifically to help you perform in the real world, this authoritative book gives you access to the wisdom and expertise of leading professionals in the field. You'll learn best practices for setting up an information hub, influencing others, identifying the critical factors and information sources for better forecasting, creating a better set of financial forecast scenarios, improving valuation and stock-picking techniques, communicating your message effectively, making ethical decisions, and more.

Without Best Practices for Equity Research Analysts, you're just treading water in the sink-or-swim world of the equity analyst.

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Best Practices for Equity Research Analysts:  Essentials for Buy-Side and Sell-Side Analysts + The Investment Checklist: The Art of In-Depth Research
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Product Details

Product Description

About the Author

James J. Valentine, CFA, has been an equity research analyst for Morgan Stanley, Salomon Brothers, Smith Barney, and Paine Webber. During his career, he served as Morgan Stanley's associate director of North American research and its director of global training and development, where he was responsible for implementing new programs for more than 1,000 employees located in financial centers around the globe. For 10 consecutive years, Institutional Investor ranked him as one of the top three Wall Street analysts within his sector.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good one Jan. 19 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The quality of the book was great, but it arrived a bit late than I was told. Overall was fine.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good Outline May 28 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Gives you a great overview of what to focus on as a beginning equity analyst. I found it very helpful and I am sure I will be referring back to it periodically.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Book Review from The Aleph Blog April 15 2011
By David Merkel - Published on
My friend Tom Brakke, liked this book and said I would too. He was right, and soon afterward, I heard the author speak at the Baltimore CFA Society. Hearing James Valentine speak is an advantage here. He summarized what is most important, which if you are reading the book, it would be chapter 20 (out of 27). It is his FaVeS framework: Forecast, Valuation, and Sentiment, in that order of importance. Remember that as a key to the book if you read it; it tells you what to focus on as an analyst.

Another key, since the book is long, is to look at the shaded summaries which are usually at the back of each chapter. If stretched for time, read those first, and then read the chapter if you didn't get it.

This book aims to focus analysts on information that matters. Aim for information that makes a difference, and that few others have. Create an information web that maximizes the value of your time, and creates value for your research.

This book covers both the buy-side and the sell-side, telling each how to best use the other side. As a former buy-side analyst, to me it means fewer analyses, and better analyses. Aside from that, it is a game: buy-side: identify the better sell-side analysts and listen to them. Sell-side: identify clients that will generate commissions and market their best insights to them.

Regardless, analysts must identify the few factors that account for 80% of the performance in a given industry, and focus on those intensely. It helps to get into the industry organizations, which can help drive insight into the industry as a whole, and provide a backdrop for questions to ask when talking with executives in the industry.

Learning this will give an analyst a leg up on other analysts. Analysts should also understand the basic accounting structures of their industry so that they can identify companies that are not playing fair -- over-reporting income. I would add don't get negative too quickly. Frauds can develop a momentum of their own. Wait until the fraud gets large relative to the size of the industry before issuing a sell call -- wait for price momentum to go to zero. (Note: for investigative journalists, this does not apply. Jump on early, so that you can say that you warned everyone.)

Basic forensic accounting skills help, as do modeling skills, and basic statistical skills. I was surprised to learn a bunch of Excel shortcuts that I haven't seen elsewhere, and I have used Excel for nineteen years at a high level. The summary of accounting deviations is cogent, as well as pointing readers to Mulford and Schilit.

One idea that I heartily agree with: set up your spreadsheets to differentiate data and formulas. Cells with data series should only contain data. Formulas should have no numbers in them, unless they are trivial. This makes analysis a lot easier and cleaner in the long run.

The book also brings out the need to consider multiple scenarios, which help an analyst to flesh out his analysis. Being willing to consider what can go wrong, or right, richens an analysis. Also, the book warns against common pathologies that overcome analysts, notably -- Confirmation bias, overconfidence, Self-Attribution-bias, Optimism, Recency, Momentum, Heuristics, Familiarity, Snakebite (won't go back to one that hurt you), Falling in love, anxiety, over-reaction, loss-aversion, etc. I have experienced a few of those myself, and would have benefited from thinking these through before becoming an analyst.


I would warn any analyst trying to use simple or multiple regression that they are playing with fire, unless they understand the weaknesses of the data, and the limitations of the general linear model. In twelve-plus years working on Wall Street, I never saw regression used right once.

The author seems to favor DCF over multiples. Truth, neither works well, and one must live with the weaknesses of any approach. DCF embeds a lot of assumptions that are known, though some may be wrong -- multiples embed unknown assumptions.

The author does not like price-to-sales. For industrials and utilities I would say look at a chart of price versus price-to-sales. In most cases, they track, because sales don't vary that much in the short run. If you know the high and low P/S ratios for companies in an industry (P/B for financials) you have valuable information. It gives you boundaries to look at in buy and sell decisions.

I would also warn analysts against using Damodaran and those like him. I don't think his models are wrong so much as impractical. I would rather use a simple model that catches 80-90% of the action, versus one that catches 100% of the action, bet cannot practically be calculated.

Who would benefit from this book:

All equity analysts would benefit from this book. It is detailed, and yet practical. Some of our competitors will benefit from it, and if you don't read it, you will wonder why.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Upside surprise April 11 2011
By Richbar - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Best Practices for Equity Research Analysts is better than I was expecting. It manages to provide some very detailed and practical advice in a straight-forward and easy to understand manner. Importantly, the book doesn't get bogged down at all on the theory. Given the experiences of the author, the books tips and advice will be most practical for analysts working in larger firms which typically are better resourced than smaller firms. Less experienced analysts will also learn more from the book than experienced analysts but that said, I think any analyst (sell or buy side, large or small firm, less or more experienced) will learn something from reading the book. I hope none of my competitors read it!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid material June 20 2011
By Sircornflakes - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I thought this book was informative and was a good overview of much of the material on valuation, due diligence, and behavioural finance contained within the CFA curriculum. The author's own experiences surely added more depth to the material.

I would suggest that future editions contain a disc or web access to go into more detail on sections (autocorrelation in residuals, time series, etc..) and provide non analysts with the opportunity to run through exercises.

Or consider exercises on one long valuation throughout the book running from top down, bottom up selection of sector and company. A fictional interview with management, running a history of numbers, forecast earnings..come up with various price multiples..and finally making a recommendation.

I think that would give readers a more interactive experience and help to use those many Excel tricks.

On the whole, I extracted some value from this book.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be Standard Issue for Stock Analysts Jan. 4 2011
By b - Published on
Wall Street has a big big talent problem. During the boom years where even an average analyst brought home 7-figures, there was usually enough cash to go around such that an average or aspiring analyst could find a mentor from which to learn all the tricks and tools of the trade. But it's 2011...good luck finding the economics of old, and unfortunately, that has taken its' toll on talent. Less capital means that the 'Top Dog' analysts were plucked away by Hedge Funds, private equity, or have started advisory businesses on their own. Some very good analysts remain in the business, but with weaker long term economics and increased volatility in employment, many analysts do not have training and development of their team as a first priority.

That's where Valentine comes in.

We all read these book and product reviews and always wonder what's real and which are planted by those who will benefit from the sale of the product. While I have no financial ties to Mr. Valentine and will not benefit for this review, you don't need to be an analytical genius to figure out that I know the guy.

But as someone who has been on many sides of this business for 18 years, I've gotta say that this book should be standard issue for every new Analyst, Associate (or whoever...) that wants to get a leg up in this business. Sure...there are parts of the book that are not super fast moving -- like Business Ethics. But I'm sure we can all think of a few people on the News being handcuffed and escorted out of a building wearing an orange jumpsuit bc they lacked Ethics.

When all is said and done, the book is highly readable -- just like Valentine's research. Concise, Decisive, Thorough, and without a single word wasted.

Congratulations Jim. Job well done.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Critical resource for any investor - professional or amateur Feb. 9 2011
By Will - Published on
This is really the only book in print that addresses the required skills of the modern equity analyst. I would think that fixed income folks would also learn a lot. The book is incredibly comprehensive, well written, and covers all the bases. I have over 20 years experience as a Wall Street analyst, and serve as an equity analyst, portfolio manager, and mentor at a top 20 investment firm. Whether you are starting from scratch or happen to be an industry veteran like me, you will learn from this book. It should be as required as Random Walk Down Wall Street is, in my view. Individual investors can really up their game as well; the only way to beat the Street is to know how Wall Streeters think. Inside this book are the answers.
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