Updated from 6:58 a.m. EDTWhen Merrill Lynch analyst Joseph Osha downgraded Intel ( INTC) to neutral from buy on Monday, some people thought it was a contrary indicator -- that is, a good reason to buy the stock. The 10% drop in the stock Wednesday affirmed the call, but notwithstanding his current prescience, critics say Osha's track record leaves a lot to be desired. During 2003, for example, he held a neutral rating on Intel for about four-and-a-half months, during which time the stock rose about 40%. Going further back to January 2002, Osha slapped a strong buy rating on Intel when it was sitting at $33.52. By early June of that year, the stock had fallen 17% whereupon he down-graded it to neutral. Intel then fell another 32% before Osha advised investors to sell in November. Since July of last year, the analyst has done a little better. From the time he upgraded the stock to buy in July 2003 until the time he downgraded it to neutral recently, Intel gained about 14%. Still, the stock had already fallen 23% from January, prompting some investors to question whether Osha's call was too late. He, for one, stands by his record. "I have now, three years in a row, changed my rating in the correct direction in front of negative or positive surprises," Osha said. Whether or not the criticism is fair -- certainly other analysts have had an equally bad, if not worse, record -- it does provoke an interesting question: How would investors do if they bought when most analysts were advising to sell and sold when analysts started cheerleading? According to a recent study by Smith Barney equity strategist Tobias Levkovich, such a strategy might make sense. He compared the "most loved" stocks on Wall Street, or those stocks where the average rating among analysts is a buy, with the "most hated" stocks, or those where the average rating is a sell. The ratings data is derived from a poll of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call. Levkovich's conclusion was that the "hated" group typically outperformed the "loved" group over six- and 12-month periods from the first quarter of 2000 through the second quarter of 2003. The favored stocks rose just 2.8% on average after six months and 3.7% after 12 months, while the other group gained 11.98% on average after six months and 21.4% after 12 months.