In poaching Sallie Krawcheck from Sanford Bernstein,
hopes some of her reputation for intrepid stock-picking will rub off on its tarnished corporate name.
But by at least one measure, the sell rating, Citi's Salomon Smith Barney unit has Krawcheck's old firm dead to rights.
In fact, analysts working for Salomon Smith Barney currently have sell ratings on a higher percentage of stocks than does any other big Wall Street firm. Thomson Financial/First Call reports that as of mid-October, Salomon analysts had the equivalent of a sell on 28% of the 1,000 U.S. stocks they follow.
Despite that, Salomon Smith Barney is arguably the most persistently bashed Wall Street firm for supposedly pressuring analysts to tailor their calls to the interests of corporate finance.
Enter Krawcheck, a respected Wall Street analyst whom Citi hired to oversee its newly independent research division. Krawcheck was chief executive at Sanford Bernstein, a firm that usually scores high marks from regulators and Wall Street critics.
That high praise may be warranted. But when it comes to telling investors to sell, the Bernstein firm is pulling up the rear of Wall Street's research train. First Call reports that it rates just 5% of the 150 U.S. stocks it follows with a sell equivalent.
Without knowing more, it's impossible to say whether the Bernstein or Citi analysts are more on target. But it just goes to show that being independent doesn't necessarily make you more likely to yell sell.