What is Equity Research?
Equity Research primarily means analyzing the company’s financials, perform ratio analysis, forecast the financial in excel (financial modeling), and explore scenarios with the objective of making a BUY/SELL stock investment recommendation. Equity Research analyst discusses their research and analysis in their equity research reports.
In this in-depth article on Equity Research, we discuss the nuts and bolts of Equity Research.
- Role of Equity Research
- Hierarchy in Equity Research firms
- Role of Head of Research
- Job of the Senior Analyst
- Responsibilities of an Associate
- Responsibilities of a Junior Analyst
- Typical Day at an Equity Research Firm
- Who pays for Equity Research?
- Equity Research Professional Approach
- Equity Research Skills-Set
- Top Equity Research Firms
- Equity Research Compensation
- Equity Research Exit Opportunities
Equity Research explanation is quite simple. Let us look at these steps below
- Equity research is all about finding the valuation of a listed company (Listed companies trade on a stock exchangeStock ExchangeStock exchange refers to a market that facilitates the buying and selling of listed securities such as public company stocks, exchange-traded funds, debt instruments, options, etc., as per the standard regulations and guidelines—for instance, NYSE and NASDAQ. like NYSE or NASDAQ etc
- Once you have the company under consideration, you look at the economic aspects like GDP, growth rates, the market size of the industry and the competition aspects, etc.
- Once you understand the economics behind the business, perform the financial statement analysis of the historical balance sheet, cash flows, and income statement to form an opinion on how the company did in the past.
- Based on management’s expectation, historical performances, and industry competition, project the financial statementsFinancial StatementsFinancial statements are written reports prepared by a company's management to present the company's financial affairs over a given period (quarter, six monthly or yearly). These statements, which include the Balance Sheet, Income Statement, Cash Flows, and Shareholders Equity Statement, must be prepared in accordance with prescribed and standardized accounting standards to ensure uniformity in reporting at all levels. like the BS, IS, and CFs of the company. (also called as Financial Modeling in Equity Research)
- Use the Equity valuation models like DCFDCFDiscounted cash flow analysis is a method of analyzing the present value of a company, investment, or cash flow by adjusting future cash flows to the time value of money. This analysis assesses the present fair value of assets, projects, or companies by taking into account many factors such as inflation, risk, and cost of capital, as well as analyzing the company's future performance., Relative valuations, a sum of parts valuationSum Of Parts ValuationSum of the Parts Valuation is a valuation method wherein each of the subsidiary or segment of a Company is separately valued & then all of them are added together to estimate the business’s total value. the company.
- Calculate the Fair price based on the above models and compare the fair price with the Current Market Price (stock exchange)
- If the Fair Price < Current Market Price, then the company stocks are overvaluedStocks Are OvervaluedOvervalued Stocks refer to stocks having more current market value than their real earning potential or the P/E Ratio. Overvaluation of stocks might occur due to illogical decision making or deterioration in a Company’s financial health. and should be recommended as a SELL.
- If the Fair Price > Current Market Price, then the company shares are undervalued and should be recommended as a BUY.
Role of Equity Research
- Equity Research plays a very critical role that fills the information gap between the buyers and sellers of shares.
- The reason is that at all levels (individual or institutional) may not have the resources or the capabilities to analyze every stock.
- Additionally, full information is not provided by the management due to which further in-efficiencies are created and stocks trade below or above the fair value.
- Equity Research analystEquity Research AnalystAn equity research analyst is a qualified professional who interprets financial information and trends of an organization or industry to provide recommendations, opinions, reports, and projections on the corporate stocks to facilitate equity trading. spends a lot of time, energy, and expertise to analyze stocks, follow the news, talking to the management, and provide an estimate of stock valuations.
- Also, equity research tries to identify the value stocksIdentify The Value StocksValue Stock is one that has the potential of selling at a higher price but due to the company’s adverse condition in the market, the stock is trading at a lower price than its actual worth based on its earnings, dividend, or sales. out of the massive ocean of stocks and help the buyers to generate profits.
What is the Typical hierarchy in Equity Research firms?
- A typical hierarchy at an Equity Research firm starts with the Head of Equities/Head of Equities at the top.
- Thereafter there are Analysts (senior) covering different sectors. Each analyst mostly covers around 10-15 companies in a specific sector.
- Each Senior analyst may be supported by an Associate, who in turn, may be supported by a couple of Junior Analysts.
What is the role of the Head of Research?
- Head of Research acts as a key member to manage the Equity research analyst team, providing the team with leadership, coaching, and guidance to ensure that the brokerage goals and objectives are met.
- They oversee research reports, publications; it’s editing as well as monitor the process of analysis and brokerage recommendations.
- They ensure that adequate support is provided to sales and trading teams.
- Contribute to Equities by providing expert-level inputs for overall strategy, goals, initiatives, and budgets
- Responsible for Analyst hiring, compensation, development, and performance management
- Liaison with fund managers and the research teams
What is the job of the Senior Analyst?
Below is an excerpt from a job requirement of a Senior analyst –
source – FederatedInvestor
- Typically an equity research senior analyst would cover a sector with not more than 8-15 stocks. Coverage implies tracking these stocks actively. Senior Analyst tries to bring maximum companies under coverage in the sector he/she tracks (initiating the coverage)
- Many senior equity analysts cover companies that investors may want to invest in. These companies are like the high market capitalization companies or the ones with higher trading volume, and there could also be cases where investors want to invest in small-cap or mid-cap stock companies with fewer analysts coverage.
- One of the most important responsibilities of Senior Analyst is to come up with Quarterly Results Update – results summary, expectation, and performance against those expectations, updating forecasts, etc.
- Talking to the clients (buy sideBuy SideThe term "buy-side" refers to entities that advise their clients like individual investors and institutional buyers on investments and securities purchases. Private equity firms, mutual fund companies, life insurance companies, unit trusts, hedge fund companies, and pension fund entities are examples of buy-side firms.) and showcasing their calls on the stocks. They have to diligently communicate buy sell recommendations of stocks. Additionally, they have to articulate clearly why a certain stock should be included in their portfolio.
- Write important industry event updates like conferences or management meeting updates.
- To update the Sales team, dealing with and trading team about the latest news in the sector and the company, and keep them updated with the brokerage’s view on the same.
- Attending conference calls for important company updates, results, etc
- Attend trade shows, meet company management, suppliers meetings, etc
Responsibilities of an Associate
Below is the summary of the Associate job description from efinancialcareers
- The primary job of an associate is to support the Senior Analyst in the best way possible.
- An associate has prior experience of around 3 years or so in a similar industry.
- Updating the financial model, verifying the data, and preparing the valuation models
- Working on various client requests like a request of data, industry analysis, etc
- Prepare draft Equity Research Reports (update of results, events, etc.)
- Work on client requests
- Participate in meetings and calls with clients on the stock under coverage.
Responsibilities of a Junior Analyst
Here is a snapshot of Junior Equity Analyst’s responsibilities.
source – careers.societegenerale.com
- The main responsibilities of Junior Analyst are to support the Associate in every format.
- The majority of the work done by Junior Analyst is related to data and excel etc.
- Also, Junior Analyst may be involved in doing primary research, industry research, coordinating with clients, etc.
- Maintaining the industry database, charts, graphs, and financial models, etc.
Typical Day at an Equity Research Firm
Previously, I had worked with companies like JPMorgan and CLSA India as an Equity Research Analyst. I covered Indian Oil & Gas sectors with stocks like ONGC, BPCL, HPCL, GAIL, etc. Below was my typical day as an Equity Research Analyst.
7:00 am – Reach office
- Check emails from traders and salespeople
- Check the stock markets (Asian Markets that open first)
- Check for all the news related to your sector
7:30 am – 8:00 am Attend Morning Meeting
- Morning meeting is nothing a formal discussion of the recommendations before the market opens along with Sales & Trading Team
- In this morning meeting, all analysts present their views on key developments in their sector along with the Head of Research or Equities presenting their views on the general markets.
9:00 am – Market Opens
- Follow the Market, look for key developments in your sector
- Try to rationalize if there are any rapid stock price movements
10:00 am – Regular Work
- Perform regular research analyst duties like Client Requests, Financial Model updates,
- Follow the News and keep a close check
11:00 am – Regular Work / Client Discussions
- Discussion with buy side clients for any explanation of research/calls
- Continue doing your regular maintenance work
3:30 pm – Market Closes
- Capture the market movements of the company under coverage for the day closure.
- Check if there is anything that the clients should know and work accordingly.
4:00 pm – Work on New Research Publications
- Work on the new research piece for publication (next day or in coming days)
- Generally, research analyst targets at least 1 to 2 research pieces every week.
7:30-8:00 – go Home
- If there is no earning seasonEarning SeasonThe Earnings season refers to the quarterly report of companies' results, such as revenue/profits, released in the first two weeks after each quarter ends (Dec, Mar, Jun, Sep). It helps investors in making investment decisions and determining the value of their investments. (company results), then the typical go home time is 7:30-8:00 pm. However, during earning seasons, there is no surety when you will reach home.
- You need to fully prepare the result update report and keep it ready for the next day early morning publication.
Who Pays for Equity Research?
- For Independent Equity Research firms: Independent equity research firmsEquity Research FirmsThe list of top 10 equity research firms in the world comprise: JP Morgan Chases and Co, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse, Barclays Capital, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, AllianceBernstein L.P.,UBS, and Nomura Holding Inc. do not have a trading and sales divisionTrading And Sales DivisionOne of the main functions of an investment bank in the country is sales and trading, in which the investment banking sales team pitches clients for trading ideas and the traders team executes activities related to the purchase and sale of securities and other financial instruments in the market for itself or on behalf of its clients.. They perform financial analysis with an idea of charging Fees on a per report basis. Also, see Equity Research vs. Sales and TradingEquity Research Vs. Sales And TradingEquity research involves conducting a thorough stock analysis, which includes financial modeling and valuation, as well as a review of financial statements, which is crucial in determining if a particular stock is a suitable investment or not. Sales and trading analysts are in responsible for marketing securities to their clients and delivering timely and relevant information that allows them to make informed decisions..
- For Major Equity Research firms: Fee income is earned by brokerage trades (Soft Dollars). To understand this in detail, let us look at the diagram below –
- As noted above, on one side is the Buy Side firms like Hedge FundsHedge FundsA hedge fund is an aggressively invested portfolio made through pooling of various investors and institutional investor’s fund. It supports various assets providing high returns in exchange for higher risk through multiple risk management and hedging techniques., Pension Funds, Insurance Companies, Mutual fundsMutual FundsA mutual fund is an investment fund that investors professionally manage by pooling money from multiple investors to initiate investment in securities individually held to provide greater diversification, long term gains and lower level of risks., etc.
- On the other side are the sell side firms like JPMorgan, Goldman Sacks, Credit Suisse, etc.
- The buy side firms manage the portfolio, and they are required to invest their portfolio as per the investment objective.
- Investment objective may mandate these companies to keep a portion of their assets in Stocks etc.
- In such cases, the buy side analysts seek to advise from the sell side analyst for investment decisions.
- The advice or the idea provided by the sell side analyst is literally for FREE.
- Once the buy side analyst has taken the decision of investing in the stock, the buy side analyst may look forward to executing the trade through the Trading division of the sell side firm.
- The trading division will, in turn, charge a commission for executing the trade at the lowest price.
- The commission, in return, is basically the earnings of the research firms.
Equity Research Professional Approach
So what is your work like as an Equity Research Professional? Equity Research analysts follow stocks and make recommendations on whether to buy, sell, or hold those securities using Fundamental Analysis. Equity Research is a very challenging job, where an analyst may be required to spend more than 12-14 hours a day.
For creating a professional Equity Research Financial model, an expert analyst recommended approach is as follows –
Economic Analysis / Industry Analysis / Company Analysis
- The very first thing you need to take care of while doing a professional analysis is to learn about the economic parameters affecting the industry, the industry dynamics, competitors, etc.
- For example, when you are analyzing AlibabaAlibabaAlibaba is the most profitable Chinese e-commerce company and its IPO is a big deal due to its size. With its huge size and network, Alibaba IPO may look at international expansion beyond China and may lead to price wars and intensive competition in the US., you should know about each and every subdivision of Alibaba and its competitors.
- You should be awesome at Fundamental Analysis. Fundamental Analysis means performing a Ratio Analysis of the company under consideration.
- Before you start ratio analysis, you should populate at least the last 5 years of financial statements (Income Statement, Balance Sheet, and Cash FlowsCash FlowsCash Flow is the amount of cash or cash equivalent generated & consumed by a Company over a given period. It proves to be a prerequisite for analyzing the business’s strength, profitability, & scope for betterment. ) in excel.
- You should prepare a blank excel sheet with Separate Income StatementIncome StatementThe income statement is one of the company's financial reports that summarizes all of the company's revenues and expenses over time in order to determine the company's profit or loss and measure its business activity over time based on user requirements., Balance Sheet, and Cash Flows and use neat formats.
- Populate the historical financial statements (IS, BS, CF) and do the necessary adjustment for Non-recurring itemsNon-recurring ItemsNon-recurring items are income statement entries that are unusual and unexpected during regular business operations; examples include profits or losses from sale of asset, impairment costs, restructuring costs, and losses in lawsuits, and inventory write-off. (one time expenses or gains).
Do the Ratio AnalysisRatio AnalysisRatio analysis is the quantitative interpretation of the company's financial performance. It provides valuable information about the organization's profitability, solvency, operational efficiency and liquidity positions as represented by the financial statements. for Historical years
- An example is presented below in Colgate Ratio Analysis
Preparing a Professional Financial Model
- Company management does not provide the future financial projectionsFinancial ProjectionsFinancial projection is a statistical forecast of a company's future revenue and expenditure based on historical market patterns, internal factors, data interpretation, anticipated market developments, and experiences. To meet production or sales targets, both short-term and long-term financial estimates are sometimes evaluated. of the company. Therefore, it is important as a research analyst to project this data. Forecasting the financials of the company is known as Financial Modeling. I earlier wrote a 6000 words step-by-step tutorial on Financial Modeling. If you want to master Financial Modeling, you can refer to this Financial Modeling Tutorial
Valuations – DCF
- Valuation is primarily done using two methods – a) Discounted Cash flowDiscounted Cash FlowDiscounted cash flow analysis is a method of analyzing the present value of a company, investment, or cash flow by adjusting future cash flows to the time value of money. This analysis assesses the present fair value of assets, projects, or companies by taking into account many factors such as inflation, risk, and cost of capital, as well as analyzing the company's future performance. and b)Relative Valuations.
- Once your financial model is ready, you can perform Discounted cash flows as given in the steps below –
- Calculate FCFFCalculate FCFFFCFF (Free cash flow to firm), or unleveled cash flow, is the cash remaining after depreciation, taxes, and other investment costs are paid from the revenue. It represents the amount of cash flow available to all the funding holders – debt holders, stockholders, preferred stockholders or bondholders. as discussed in class and the handbook
- Apply a suitable WACC post the calculation of the capital structure
- Find the Enterprise Value of the Firm (including the Terminal ValueTerminal ValueTerminal Value is the value of a project at a stage beyond which it's present value cannot be calculated. This value is the permanent value from there onwards. )
- Find Equity ValueEquity ValueEquity Value, also known as market capitalization, is the sum-total of the values the shareholders have made available for the business and can be calculated by multiplying the market value per share by the total number of shares outstanding. of the Firm after the deduction of Net Debt.
- Divide Equity Value of the Firm by the total number of shares to arrive at the “Intrinsic Fair Value” of the company.
- Recommend whether to “BUY” or “SELL”
Valuation – Relative Valuations
- Relative valuation is based on comparing the valuation of the company under consideration with the valuation of other firms. There are valuation multiples used to value companies like PE MultiplePE MultipleThe price to earnings (PE) ratio measures the relative value of the corporate stocks, i.e., whether it is undervalued or overvalued. It is calculated as the proportion of the current price per share to the earnings per share. , EV/EBITDAEV/EBITDAEV to EBITDA is the ratio between enterprise value and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization that helps the investor in the valuation of the company at a very subtle level by allowing the investor to compare a specific company to the peer company in the industry as a whole, or other comparative industries., PBV ratioPBV RatioPrice to Book Value Ratio or P/B Ratio helps to identify stock opportunities in Financial companies, especially banks, and is used with other valuation tools like PE Ratio, PCF, EV/EBITDA. Price to Book Value Ratio = Price Per Share / Book Value Per Share , etc.
The common approach is given below.
- Identify the comparable based on the business, Market Capitalization, and other filters.
- Identify a suitable trading valuation multiple to be used for this business.
- Use the average valuation multiple to find the valuation of the company.
- Suggest “Undervalued” or “Over-valued.”
- Once you have prepared the financial modeling and find the fair valuation of the company, you need to communicate this to your clients through Research Reports. This research report is very professional in nature and is prepared with a lot of caution.
- Below is a sample of the Equity Research Report. You may learn about Equity Research Report Writing here.https://www.wallstreetmojo.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Reliance-Petroleum.pdf
Equity Research Skills-Set
Here are excerpts from the Equity Research Job Requirements Description –
Key highlights to note from this excerpt is –
- MBA is a plus (not a necessity). If you are an MBA, then you have certain advantages, but if you are a graduate, you should not get disheartened. You have a chance if you prove your interest in finance. Please do have a look at Can an engineer get into an Investment Bank.
- Financial discipline is not essential, but you must have a strong interest in the financial marketsFinancial MarketsThe term "financial market" refers to the marketplace where activities such as the creation and trading of various financial assets such as bonds, stocks, commodities, currencies, and derivatives take place. It provides a platform for sellers and buyers to interact and trade at a price determined by market forces. with excellent quantitative and analytical skills.
- You should be fluent in English and have excellent verbal and written communication skills.
- You possess intellectual curiosity, focus, and creativity, and have a keen research instinct with creative problem-solving abilities.
- Strong proficiency in Microsoft Excel and Powerpoint
- CFA designation – This is one important designation that the finance industry respects. Try to ensure that you take the CFA examinationCFA ExaminationThe Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) Program offers a graduate-level curriculum and examination program designed to expand your working knowledge and practical skills related to investment decision-making. and pass at least a couple of levels.
- I wrote a detailed post on the skills required to enter into Equity Research. My top 5 skillsets required to enter the Equity Research Industry are –
- Excel Skills
- Financial Modeling
- Report Writing
You can get an in-depth understanding of the skillsets here – Equity Research Skills.
Top Equity Research Firms
Apart from the top 3 above, there are other notable equity research firms (listed below)
|Deutsche Bank||Standard Chartered Bank|
|Credit Suisse||Cornerstone Macro|
|Barclays||BNP Paribas Securities|
|Nomura||Cowen and Co.|
|Goldman, Sachs & Co.||Berenberg Bank|
|CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets||Citic Securities|
|Wells Fargo Securities||CRT Capital Group|
|VTB Capital||Empirical Research Partners|
|Sberbank CIB||J. Safra Corretora|
|Santander||Keefe, Bruyette & Woods|
|ISI Group||Kempen & Co.|
|Daiwa Capital Markets||Otkritie Capital|
|Jefferies & Co.||Raymond James & Associates|
|Mizuho Securities Group||Renaissance Macro Research|
|SMBC Nikko Securities||SEB Enskilda|
|Macquarie Securities||ABG Sundal Collier|
|HSBC||Amherst Securities Group|
|Banco Português de Investimento||Antique Stock Broking|
|Batlivala & Karani Securities India||Autonomous Research|
|BGC Partners||Ichiyoshi Research Institute|
|BMO Capital Markets Corp.||ICICI Securities|
|BOCI Research||ING Financial Markets|
|Commerzbank Corporates & Markets||JB Capital Markets|
|Davy||Kepler Capital Markets|
|EFG-Hermes||LarrainVial Corredora de Bolsa|
|Equita S.I.M.||Lazard Capital Markets|
|Fidentiis Equities||MainFirst Bank|
|Goodbody Stockbrokers||Oddo Securities|
|Guggenheim Securities||Okasan Securities Co.|
|Handelsbanken Capital Markets||Oppenheimer & Co.|
|Strategas Research Partners||Redburn Partners|
|Vontobel||Zelman & Associates|
Equity Research Compensation
- Junior Analyst/Assistants have a base comp of $45,000 – $50,000 per year (average)
- Associates have a base salary of $65,000 – $90,000 per year (average) depending on the experience. Additionally, they get a bonus of 50-100% of the base salary (in an average to good year)
- Senior Analysts generally have a base compensation of $125,000 – $250,000. Their bonus may range from 2-5 times the base compensation.
Equity Research Exit Opportunities
Sell Side research analyst has various Career Opportunities –
Within Equity Research Firm
- If you joined as an associate, then you can move up the ladder to become a Senior analyst assuming full responsibility for the sector coverage.
- Later you can move further up to become Head of Research and Head of Equities.
Private Equity Analyst
- Sell side analysts also move to the Private Equity domain working as Private Equity AnalystPrivate Equity AnalystA private equity analyst is an analyst who looks for undervalued companies for a private equity investor to buy, take them private and earn profits. The companies are primarily unlisted, and the risk is higher..
- Instead of analyzing public companies, they analyst private companies from the point of view of investments.
- They can move up the hierarchy to become a Private Equity Fund manager. Check out the list of Top Private Equity FirmsTop Private Equity FirmsPrivate equity firms are investment managers who invest in many corporations' private equities using various strategies such as leveraged buyouts, growth capital, and venture capital. The top private equity firms include Apollo Global Management LLC, Blackstone Group LP, Carlyle Group, and KKR & Company LP..
Investment Banking Analysts
- Movement of sell side analysts to Investment bankingInvestment BankingInvestment banking is a specialized banking stream that facilitates the business entities, government and other organizations in generating capital through debts and equity, reorganization, mergers and acquisition, etc. is slightly tough but not impossible.
- Sell side analysts are fully aware of financial research and modeling related work.
- What they haven’t worked on is the transaction-related work like IPO filing documents, Pitch books, registration work, etc. If you are confused between Investment Banking and Equity Research, read this article – Investment Banking vs. Equity ResearchInvestment Banking Vs. Equity ResearchEquity research is a mechanism through which an organization's financial well-being, i.e. assets and liabilities are analyzed, which further helps investors make investing decisions. In contrast, investment banking is a banking function that offers financial services to individuals and companies and enables them to raise capital..
Buy Side Firms
- Sell side analysts sometimes are also absorbed as buy side analysts (working for Mutual funds, etc.).
- The buy side analysts assume the responsibility of fund managers over a period of time.
- Sell side analysts work a lot on financial analysis, analyzing company projects, and its effect on the overall company’s financials. Hence, they get into typical Corporate finance roles of large corporates (take care of financial analysis, planning Projects, etc.)
- Another unique role they get into is Investor relations. As a sell side analyst, they get equipped with the FAQs and how to deal with critical information and its sharing, etc. Due to this, they also become eligible for Investor Relations jobs.
Equity Research essentially means preparing an estimate of company fair valuation for recommending the buy side clients. Though, as a research analyst, you may spend 12-16 hours a day at the office; however, this is a dream job for many who love Finance and Financial Analysis. If you like to work in a challenging and dynamic environment, then this is one career you must consider. Not only equity research job rewards analysts with relatively higher compensation, but also, it provides excellent exit opportunities.
Equity Research Video
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