Do Brokerage Analysts' Recommendations Have Investment Value?

Posted: 14 Nov 1994

See all articles by Kent L. Womack

Kent L. Womack

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management (Deceased)

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Date Written: August, 1994


An analysis of stock buy and sell recommendations by security analysts at fourteen major U.S. brokerage firms shows significant, systematic discrepancies between prices and eventual values, in contrast to the conclusions of many previous studies. The average initial price change at the time of the recommendations is large, even though few recommendations coincide with other public information releases or provide previously unavailable facts. These price changes which are then ostensibly due primarily to information processing and dissemination are consistent with the expanded Grossman and Stiglitz (1980) definition of market efficiency where informed investors earn a return on their information gathering and processing efforts. Furthermore, these initial price reactions are incomplete. Post-recommendation risk-adjusted price drift implies that analysts' recommendations provide tradable value for investors. For buy recommendations, the mean, post-event drift is modest (+2.4%) and short-lived (one month), but for sell recommendations, the drift is larger (-9.1%), accruing over a longer six-month interval. Analysts appear to have market timing as well as stock picking abilities. Also, accurate industry predictions appear to be an important component for pessimistic recommendations ("sell" and "removed from buy" ) but not for optimistic ones ("buy" and "removed from sell").

JEL Classification: G14

Suggested Citation

Womack, Kent L., Do Brokerage Analysts' Recommendations Have Investment Value? (August, 1994). Available at SSRN:

Kent L. Womack (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management (Deceased)

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