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Analyze This.

They are the E.E Huttons of the insurance industry. When they speak, people listen. Investors listen. Journalists listen. Corporate executives listen.

Wall Street analysts need only open their mouths to draw attention. What they say may not always be pro found, but it often carries a lot of weight. And because so many people are hanging on their every word, they wield tremendous power.

This month's cover story ("Power Play," page 20) paints a picture of the equity analyst as a hard-working, competitive and well-compensated risk taker. When a company's stock is overvalued or a company is moving away from profitability, analysts often have to make gutsy calls that can send stock prices plummeting. And they'd better be right, or there will be hell to pay.

Analysts sometimes risk their careers on a call. "The reality on Wall Street is that you have to be prepared to put your job on the line," said Colin Devine, managing director in the research division of Salomon Smith Barney.

While analysts can command an audience, they can no longer have a private audience with company executives when they release financial-related information. Regulation Fair Disclosure, which went into effect last October, put an end to those cozy meetings. Under Reg FD, companies are required to release earnings reports, profit warnings and other financial-related information to the public at the same time they release them to analysts.

The regulation was designed to create a level playing field for both large and small investors. But critics, including some Wall Street analysts, say companies are now more guarded in what they say. (See "Fair and Fewer Disclosures," page 34.)

Reg FD is just one of the many challenges analysts face. Other challenges include extensive travel, long work days and taking the heat for making bad calls.

"I'm waiting for when I make a serious error," said Todd Bault, a second-year analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. "It's your job to stand up and take it."
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Title Annotation:Regulation Fair Disclosure
Publication:Best's Review
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2001
Previous Article:Executives.
Next Article:Wimps, Whiners and Crybabies.

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