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Davy hangs on despite Merrion surge Back  
The twenty first Finance Stockbroking Survey shows an advance by Merrion Stockbrokers to challenge the dominance of the major stockbroking firms, with Davy just about retaining its overall dominance in terms of number of categories won in the Finance Stockbroking Survey 2007. However, with sixteen overall categories won, Davys had to rely on victories in the bond categories to retain its overall ‘blue riband’, against Merrion's thirteen.
Excluding bonds, Merrion emerged as No 1, winning 13 ‘gongs’ in equities, for overall firm or individual analyst ratings, against eleven for Davys. Goodbodys followed with five firsts, and NCB scored three.

Relative new kid on the block Collins Stewart, who entered the Dublin market in July 2003 to deliver its international equity service has developed an Irish dimension, and won one category outright – for the best website, a prize that will no doubt have web developers in the other stockbroking firms logging in to see what is so good about the newcomer’s web offering.

One of the features of the 2007 Survey, which had the biggest participation ever, with 171 eligible instititutional investors casting their vote, was a notable rise in the challenge by second line players to the Big Four traditionally dominant players, Davy, Merrion, NCB and Goodbody.

This is evident in Collins Stewart’s rise in scores across a number of categories, but also, Bloxham in both equities, and indeed bonds, where it scored a number of firsts, as one of the two key players in a market that has been left to just three domestic firms, Davys, Bloxham, and Dolmen Butler Briscoe.

Also evident is a surge in equities for both ABN AMRO and Citigroup Smith Barney, who also scored highly in its international equity research.

This relative prosperity in the second tier of the market is reflecting an increasing interest amongst investors in international research and equity opportunities, the flip side of the bear marker in Irish equities, associated with the Irish equity ‘sell’ story of most of the year.

However, when it came to firm ratings in the equity categories Davys emerged with most wins - garnering 6 against Merrion’s three, and one each for Goodbody, NCB, and Collins Stewart.

Also, Merrion’s overall performance was helped by the stellar performance of two of its analysts. One was Robert Brisbourne, who won the food and agribusiness analyst category, as well as, for the second year in a row, authoring the most highly regarded research report - on, again, the same share as he won with last year, C&C, whose ‘great calls’ on the volatile share were applauded. The second was John Mattimoe, who pulled off wins in no less than four categories, small and mid cap stocks, paper and packaging, construction/building materials, and airlines. The fact that three of these sectors have only a handful of stocks may have helped him cover such wide ground, but the inclusion of small and mid caps in his haul also was impressive. It came as no surprise then that Mattimoe pulled off the overall gong of ‘Analyst of the Year’.

When it came to strategy, though, it was Davys who retained its dominant position, with Robbie Kelleher winning the Best Equity Strategist, for the fourth straight year in a row. Kelleher’s position was comfortable too, with the No2 in the ‘Best Equity Strategist’ category, lagging 15p.c. behind him in the vote for this category.

That No2. Position reflected the further consolidation of the reputation of NCB technical analyst Richard Crossley, who rose to supplant his NCB colleague Bernard McAlinden in second place, followed by Enrique Curran of NCB and, two ‘second line’ firm representatives, ABN AMRO’s Damian Roddy, and Bloxham’s Kevin McConnell.

Crossley has made his mark with a pithy daily bulletin, which has consistently held to the theme during 2007 of bullish views on commodities, mining, food, gold and oil, as well as defensives, such as utilities and tobacco, while being bearish on financials, consumer facing (particularly high end consumer facing, such as automotive and white goods) and retailers, such as Marks & Spencer. He proclaims that his technique is not fundamentalist, and simply derives from a close and good reading of revealed trends in the markets. He places big emphasis on volume indicators, and relative charts in which he examines chart positions of shares relative to their and other sectors. Crossley’s work also led to one of NCB’s overall company awards, for best technical analysis.

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