A study of analyst recommendations at the major brokerages shows that Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) is the #15 broker pick, on average, out of the 30 stocks making up the Dow Jones Industrial Average, according to ETF Channel. Within the broader S&P 500, when components were ranked in terms of analyst favorites, CAT claims the #247 spot.In forming this rank, the analyst opinions from the major brokerage houses were tallied, and averaged; then, the underlying components were ranked according to those averages. Investors often interpret analyst opinions from different angles — a popular analyst pick could mean that many sharp minds individually came to the same bullish conclusion, and therefore the stock should do well, but it could also mean that if the company stumbles, that would come as a negative surprise. From the other direction, when companies have a low rank among analysts, it isn't necessarily the case that investors should conclude that the stock will perform poorly. It can, of course, but a bullish investor could also take the contrarian angle and read into the data that there is lots of room for upside because the stock is so out of favor. For these reasons, we at ETF Channel find value to putting together these rankings, because both the top and the bottom ends of the lists can often make for some interesting stock picking ideas for further research. Below is a chart of rank over time: According to the ETF Finder at ETF Channel, CAT makes up 4.36% of the SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF (DIA) which is trading higher by about 1.2% on the day Wednesday. CAT operates in the Construction sector, among companies like United Rentals Inc (URI) which is up about 1.2% today, and Fluor Corp. (FLR) trading higher by about 0.6%. Below is a three month price history chart comparing the stock performance of CAT, versus URI and FLR. CAT is currently trading up about 0.7% midday Wednesday.