It looks as if Thomas Kraemer, once a hot property on Wall Street, is out of a job.
Kraemer couldn't immediately be reached for comment, and Merrill Lynch didn't comment. But people who know the industry were saying Tuesday afternoon that Merrill's enterprise hardware analyst has left the building.
Kraemer was hired from Morgan Stanley last fall to take over the position vacated by Steve Milunovich when he became the firm's global technology strategist. At Morgan, Kraemer had been a runner-up in
influential annual poll (as well as ranking in
"first annual" all-star analyst issue in 2000), and he repeated as a runner-up this year while at Merrill.
As with many of his counterparts, however, Kraemer was unable to roll with tech's punches. Even within Merrill's ranks there was some consternation about his unyielding optimism for tech. At one point earlier this year, for instance, he had a 1 rating -- Merrill's highest -- on all of the network storage companies he had under coverage. A world without competition, apparently.
If it weren't for another of Merrill's recently-departed, Henry Blodget, Kraemer might be the poster child for the rise and fall of tech analysts. A young Fulbright scholar and Wharton Ph.D. who came to Wall Street just five years ago, he was one of those people who were said to "get" tech, who understood that with their viral growth rates tech outfits needed a new valuation framework. But like many, he stayed too long at the party. A glaring example:
was one of his favorite stocks coming into this year. It has fallen 66%.
But the demise of the tech analyst is as much about simple economics as it is about stock picking. Tech stocks simply aren't the revenue generators, in either trading or investment banking, that they once were. Meanwhile, many tech firms have either gone away or seen their market capitalization dwindle to the point that they are, in the market's eyes, meaningless. Meanwhile, there are still plenty of tech analysts on Wall Street's payrolls.
In other words, demand is low and there's a capacity glut. Yes, technology analysts have fallen into exactly the same fix as the companies they cover.
"Whole sectors have collapsed," notes Jeff Matthews, head of the Connecticut-based hedge fund Ram Partners. "Do you need a B2B analyst anymore? There are only a handful of those companies left. Do you need a B2C analyst? There's only two left:
If you have one of the weekly packs of investing ideas Wall Street firms send out nearby, pick it up and flip to the back. Check out how many analysts are covering different kinds of tech. Hard to believe there isn't a lot more cutting to come.