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Sandler O'Neill Analyst Ranked Highest

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SAN FRANCISCO (–The number one stock picker in the United States was Nick Pirsos, a sell-side insurance industry analyst for Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP, according to analyst rating company StarMine.

Relying on data from FirstCall, StarMine ranks Wall Street analysts based on the performance of their ratings and the accuracy of their earnings estimates. The stocks Mr. Pirsos followed rose on average 9% last year, and his portfolio rose 34%. That portfolio was constructed by StarMine by overweighting stocks rated a strong buy or buy, and underweighting stocks rated hold or sell.

Most of the other analysts in StarMine’s top 10 also were from boutique firms. Rated second through fifth were: Richard Repetto, a financial industry analyst for Putnam Lovell NBF Securities Inc.; Steven Labbe, an analyst for Langen McAlenney who also covers the insurance industry; William Leach, a food products analyst for Banc of America Securities; and Paul Nisbet, an aerospace and defense analyst for JSA Research Inc., an aerospace specialist.

The top-rated earnings estimators were: Ivy Zelman, household durables analyst for Credit Suisse First Boston; a research team at Simmons & Co.; Andrew Casey, a machinery analyst for Prudential Securities; David Bradley, a J.P. Morgan analyst covering the auto components industry; and Jack Aydin, an oil and gas analyst for McDonald Investments.

StarMine also rates analysts by industry, and plans similar rankings for analysts in Europe and Canada.

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