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Prophets and Losses: Reassessing the Returns to Analysts' Stock Recommendations


  • Barber, Brad

    (U of California, Davis)

  • Lehavy, Reuven

    (U of California, Berkeley)

  • Trueman, Brett

    (Stanford U)

  • McNichols, Maureen

    (U of California, Berkeley)


After a string of years in which security analysts' top stock picks significantly outperformed their plans, the year 2000 was a disaster. During that year the stocks least favorably recommended by analysts earned an annualized market-adjusted return of 48.66 percent while the stocks most highly recommended fell 31.20 percent, a return difference of almost 80 percentage points. This pattern prevailed during most months of 2000, regardless of whether the market was rising or falling, and was observed for both tech and non-tech stocks. While we cannot conclude that the 2000 results are necessarily driven by an increased emphasis on investment banking by analysts, our findings should add to the debate over the usefulness of analysts' stock recommendations to investors. They should also serve to alert researchers to the possibility that excluding the year 2000 from their sample period could have a significant impact on any conclusions they draw concerning analysts' stock recommendations.

Suggested Citation

  • Barber, Brad & Lehavy, Reuven & Trueman, Brett & McNichols, Maureen, 2001. "Prophets and Losses: Reassessing the Returns to Analysts' Stock Recommendations," Research Papers 1692, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:1692

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lin, Hsiou-wei & McNichols, Maureen F., 1998. "Underwriting relationships, analysts' earnings forecasts and investment recommendations," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 101-127, February.
    2. Blume, Marshall E. & Stambaugh, Robert F., 1983. "Biases in computed returns : An application to the size effect," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 387-404, November.
    3. Barber, Brad M. & Lyon, John D., 1997. "Detecting long-run abnormal stock returns: The empirical power and specification of test statistics," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 341-372, March.
    4. Barber, Brad M. & Loeffler, Douglas, 1993. "The “Dartboard” Column: Second-Hand Information and Price Pressure," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 28(02), pages 273-284, June.
    5. Copeland, Thomas E. & Mayers, David, 1982. "The value line enigma (1965-1978) : A case study of performance evaluation issues," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 289-321, November.
    6. Michaely, Roni & Womack, Kent L, 1999. "Conflict of Interest and the Credibility of Underwriter Analyst Recommendations," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 12(4), pages 653-686.
    7. Carhart, Mark M, 1997. " On Persistence in Mutual Fund Performance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(1), pages 57-82, March.
    8. Linda Canina & Roni Michaely & Richard Thaler & Kent Womack, 1998. "Caveat Compounder: A Warning about Using the Daily CRSP Equal-Weighted Index to Compute Long-Run Excess Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(1), pages 403-416, February.
    9. John D. Lyon & Brad M. Barber & Chih-Ling Tsai, 1999. "Improved Methods for Tests of Long-Run Abnormal Stock Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(1), pages 165-201, February.
    10. Dimson, Elroy & Marsh, Paul R, 1984. " An Analysis of Brokers' and Analysts' Unpublished Forecasts of UK Stock Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 39(5), pages 1257-1292, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Martínez, Juan & Santiso, Javier, 2003. "Financial Markets and Politics: The Confidence Game in Latin American Emerging Economies," MPRA Paper 12909, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Eric Bayle & Marc Schwartz, 2005. "A quoi servent les analystes financiers ?," Revue d'Économie Financière, Programme National Persée, vol. 81(4), pages 211-235.

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