September 07, 2016 | CFRA Research

CFRA Creates Industry’s Largest Institutional-Grade Independent Equity Research Team; Agrees to Acquire S&P Global Market Intelligence’s Equity and Fund Research


  • Acquisition to create formidable combination of sophisticated forensic analysis, broad equity research, and fund research services

  • Transaction fuels continued growth trajectory for CFRA’s global business


NEW YORK; September 7, 2016 — CFRA, a leading provider of independent forensic accounting, legal research, analytics, and advisory services has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire S&P Global Market Intelligence’s Equity and Fund Research (Equity Research) business. S&P Global Market Intelligence is a division of S&P Global (NYSE: SPGI). The combination of CFRA’s advanced forensic analysis professionals and Equity Research’s recognized analyst group will create the industry’s largest institutional-grade independent equity research team.

CFRA will employ the largest global team of independent equity analysts delivering institutionalquality research with over 65 research professionals located globally in New York, Washington DC, Denver, London, Hong Kong, and Kuala Lumpur. CFRA’s services are utilized by investors who oversee over $18 trillion of assets within the institutional and retail asset management industry.

The combined entity will provide access to fundamental equity analysis, forensic accounting research, quantitative research, legal analysis, exchange-traded fund and mutual fund research, fixed-income research, and industry surveys for both wealth advisors and institutional investors. CFRA will also offer multi-dimensional coverage of over 17,000 global companies. The research team will be led by Zach Gast, Global Director of Research at CFRA, who has previously held positions at Paulson & Co. and RiskMetrics.

“The combination of S&P Global Market Intelligence’s broad equity and fund research business with CFRA’s deep forensic analysis will create tremendous new value for market participants,” said Peter E. de Boer, CEO of CFRA. “Recent high-profile cases of accounting fraud highlight the need for more in-depth forensic work overlaid on fundamental equity and funds research for all investors.”

CFRA’s research is highly sought-after by leading global institutional investment managers, insurance companies, regulators, and professional services firms. The firm’s proven methodology and results create value by highlighting areas of risk and identifying alpha-generating opportunities. Founded in 1923, S&P Global Market Intelligence’s Equity Research is the industry gold standard for global equity qualitative and quantitative rankings and analysis. Equity Research is also a leading provider of exchange-traded fund and mutual fund research for wealth managers.

“The market has come to rely on S&P Global Market Intelligence’s Equity and Fund Research business as a trusted source of independent analysis, and CFRA is uniquely positioned to continue a legacy of providing value for clients,” said Mike Chinn, President of S&P Global Market Intelligence. “We believe the pairing of Equity Research with CFRA will benefit Equity Research’s existing clients and the market overall while allowing S&P Global Market Intelligence to allocate resources to areas that more closely align with our vision and future growth.”

About CFRA

CFRA (www.cfraresearch.com) is the world’s largest provider of institutional-grade independent equity research. Through sophisticated forensic analysis and broad fundamental equity and fund research, CFRA empowers sophisticated investment professionals, advisors and risk managers with actionable ideas and proven results.

Founded in 1994, CFRA utilizes battle-tested methodologies that consistently identify actionable situations from which clients can gain an investment edge and avoid risk. CFRA’s global clients include the world’s leading institutional investors, wealth advisors, insurance companies, regulators, and professional service organizations.

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Ahmad Halim is the Vice President of Equity Research Services at CFRA. He is responsible for a number of roles, including fundamental research and sector coverage (APAC Energy, Telecommunications, Utilities, and Healthcare), and regional equity strategy (APAC and EMEA). Ahmad is also responsible for the management and oversight of the International arm of CFRA’s Equity Research Services business, based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Previously, Ahmad held the position of Senior Research Manager and Industry Analyst with S&P Global Market Intelligence. Prior to joining CFRA in 2016 and S&P Global in 2008, Ahmad worked on the sell-side as an Equity Analyst at Nomura Securities and Deutsche Bank, covering a wide range of industries including utilities, transportation, plantation, properties, and oil & gas companies.

Ahmad holds a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) degree from City, University of London. He is also a CFA charterholder.

Nick Rodelli is the founder and head of CFRA’s Legal Edge, an institutional investor research product focused on legal and regulatory risk.

Prior to joining the firm, Nick was a litigator and corporate governance counselor at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati, a Palo Alto, CA technology sector-focused law firm, and Jenner & Block in Chicago, IL, and a merger arbitrage and special situations analyst at a multi-strategy hedge fund, where he performed merger antitrust, litigation, SEC Enforcement, and regulatory risk assessments, and fundamental analysis. Nick has appeared on CNBC and has been quoted in Barron's, Bloomberg, The New York Times, and other major publications.

Nick holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Sam Stovall is Chief Investment Strategist of U.S. Equity Strategy at CFRA. He serves as analyst, publisher and communicator of CFRA’s outlooks for the economy, market, and sectors. Sam is the Chairman of the CFRA Investment Policy Committee, where he focuses on market history and valuations, as well as industry momentum strategies. He is the author of The Standard & Poor’s Guide to Sector Investing and The Seven Rules of Wall Street. In addition, Sam writes a weekly investment piece, featured on CFRA’s MarketScope Advisor platform and his work is also found in the flagship weekly newsletter The Outlook.

Prior to joining S&P Global in 1989 and CFRA in 2016, Sam served as Editor In Chief at Argus Research, an independent investment research firm in New York City.

He holds an MBA in Finance from New York University and a B.A. in History/Education from Muhlenberg College, in Allentown, PA. He is a CFP® certificant and is a Trustee of the Securities Industry Institute®, the executive development program held annually at The Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania.

Follow Sam on Twitter: @StovallCFRA

Todd Rosenbluth is Senior Director of ETF and Mutual Fund Research at CFRA where he leads the firm’s holdings-based research efforts within the Equity Research and Fund group. Todd publishes regular thought leadership content on equity and fixed income products, maintains the quantitative fund models and supports client needs. He also serves as a member of Portfolio Strategy Committee and the Investment Policy Committee. Todd also held the position of Senior Director of ETF and Mutual Fund Research for S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Prior to joining CFRA, Todd previously served in other financial positions at S&P Global, such as International Mutual Fund Sector Specialist, Large Cap Value and Large Cap Growth Analyst and has served on the Fund Services Asset Allocation Committee. Prior to joining S&P Global in 2001, Todd was managing editor of Value Line Mutual Fund Survey and Senior Large Cap and Small Cap Value Mutual Fund Analyst. He was also a Financial Advisor with Morgan Stanley.

Todd holds a B.G.S in Finance from the University of Michigan and an MBA in Finance from New York University.

Follow Todd on Twitter at: @ToddCFRA

Lindsey Bell is an Investment Strategist at CFRA. Along with the Chief Investment Officer, she determines CFRA’s asset class allocation and equity sector level recommendations. She participates in projecting the firm’s 12-month S&P 500 price target. Her market observations and sector opinions are expressed in regular writings on CFRA’s MarketScope Advisor (MSA) platform. She oversees CFRA’s portfolio management committee which manages five portfolios of stocks. Finally, she also assists in authoring monthly European and Asian Investment Policy Committee (IPC) notes, also available on MSA. She is a frequent guest on FoxBusiness, CNBC, Bloomberg and Yahoo! Finance, etc.

Prior to joining CFRA, Lindsey worked as an Investment Strategist with S&P Global within the Investment Advisory Services division. She worked in several different capacities at TheStreet.com before that, from helping to manage Jim Cramer’s small and mid-cap Charitable Trusts, to leading trader blog conversations and writing research. She learned the ropes as an equity research analyst at J.P Morgan and Deutsche Bank covering retail companies, and began her career in investment banking with Jefferies & Company’s Mergers & Acquisition group.

Follow Lindsey on Twitter: @LBellCFRA

Tuna is Director & Industry Analyst at CFRA. He is responsible for general oversight of the firm’s Consumer sector strategy and recommendations by a team of equity analysts, for hundreds of securities. He covers companies in the Internet Retail universe such as Amazon and Netflix, as well as media companies such as CBS, Comcast and Disney. Tuna previously held a similar position at S&P Global Market Intelligence where he led a core team that created and implemented a proprietary S&P Core Earnings® framework, also serving on the firm’s Analytical Policy Board. He currently authors a biannual industry survey called “Media”.

Prior to joining CFRA and S&P Global, Tuna was a Senior Equity Analyst at Lehman Brothers, New York. He participated in key decisions by the firm’s Investment Policy Committee and was highly instrumental in managing a multi-capitalization equity portfolio, with primary focus on the Technology, Media and Telecom (TMT) sectors. Tuna also gained extensive global consulting experience in his previous roles at Arthur Andersen and KPMG.

Tuna earned an MBA in Finance from the Strathclyde University Business School in Scotland, U.K. He also holds a B.Sc. in Accounting from University of Nigeria as well as LL.B. (JD). Tuna is a CFA charterholder and a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

Peter is the CEO at CFRA where he is responsible for the global strategic leadership of the firm. Peter acquired CFRA in March 2013. Previously he was Executive Managing Director at S&P Global. Prior to this role, Peter was Executive Director at Morgan Stanley and Vice President at JPMorgan where he helped develop leading Financial Technology investment banking practices. In addition, Peter was Vice President with LabMorgan, a JPMorgan venture capital division investing in financial information and technology companies. Peter graduated from Union College with a BA in Economics and holds an MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurial Management from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Theresa is the CFO & COO at CFRA, leading the company’s global financial and operational affairs. Theresa was most recently the Senior Director of Finance, Corporate Controller for SNL Financial (now part of S&P Global) where she worked for approximately ten years in helping the business to scale to $250 million in revenues and over 3,000 employees. Prior to SNL Financial, she was Director of Business Management with LexisNexis and a Consulting Manager with Grant Thornton LLP. Theresa graduated from the University of Virginia with a BA in Mathematics and holds an MBA from the Raymond A. Mason School of Business, William & Mary.

Dan is the Chief Revenue Officer of CFRA where he oversees the company's global sales and marketing efforts. He has over 20 years of experience in sales management, team building and partner development including roles as the Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing at WealthEngine and CEO of GMI Ratings, an independent provider of global corporate governance, forensic accounting and ESG ratings and research. As CEO, Dan led the company to a successful exit for shareholders through a sale to strategic acquirer, MSCI, Inc. He also served as Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) where he helped significantly increase revenues and actively participated in the sale to RiskMetrics Group (now part of MSCI, Inc.). Dan graduated from the University of Maryland and holds an MBA from Baruch College.

Zach is the Global Head of Research at CFRA, overseeing the company’s research, analytics and advisory services. Zach was formerly the Head of the Financial Institutions Research for CFRA. Prior to returning to CFRA, where he worked from 2005-2009, Zach was with Paulson & Co. and Paulson Europe where he covered financial institutions globally. He has also worked in microfinance internationally and testified before the U.S. House and Senate on small business lending and development. Zach graduated from Brown University with BAs in Political Science and Italian Studies and holds an MBA from the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. He is also a CFA charterholder.

Eram is the CTO and Chief Product officer at CFRA where he defines product strategy and leads technology innovation leveraging his 15 years of experience delivering commercially profitable client-centered solutions. Prior to joining CFRA, Eram was Senior Director of Commercial Solutions at Fitch Solutions for buy and sell-side markets. As Global Head of Desktop Product Development, he developed the strategy and launched the flagship Fitch Connect Web and Excel platform that accounted for over $100M of revenue targeting counterparty credit and credit markets. Prior to Fitch, Eram held product development roles at S&P Global and other information services firms. Eram graduated from Washington University in Saint Louis with a BS in Marketing & Strategy and holds an MA in Cognitive Science from Teacher’s College, Columbia University.

Heather is the Global Head of Talent, driving Talent strategy and related matters across the globe. Heather was most recently the Senior Director of Human Resources at SNL Financial (now part of S&P Global) where she worked for approximately 19 years helping the business scale to $250 million in revenue and over 3,000 employees. Prior to filling the HR role at SNL, Heather worked as the Director of SNL’s Content Operations. Heather graduated from Mary Baldwin College with a BA in Business Administration.

David is CFRA’s General Counsel overseeing the company’s legal, regulatory and compliance matters. David served previously as Assistant General Counsel for S&P Global Market Intelligence, and as Senior Counsel for SNL Financial immediately prior thereto, where he handled a wide variety of legal matters. David graduated from the University of Virginia with a BA in Economics and holds a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law.

“What makes CFRA unique is the delicate balance of skepticism, curiosity and conviction that we experience throughout the company.”

What makes CFRA special?
The diversity of views (both long and short) across the company, which drives prudent decisions free of bias. A rarity in our business.

What’s your favorite aspect of your job?
That the delicate balance of skepticism, curiosity and conviction can often be rewarded if correctly executed.

Can you describe your typical day at CFRA?
What makes your days at CFRA different than other jobs you have had?
At CFRA, your opinions and suggestions go further, which was something I had not experienced when working at larger corporations.

“At CFRA, everyone shares the same values
and is dedicated to the mission…No egos, no politics.”

What makes CFRA special?
You always hear how first impression is the most important one. When I joined CFRA some 18 months ago, it was in a midst of a large RFP in EMEA. We had extremely tight deadline and very complex proposal to make. I was new, nobody knew me and I needed a lot of support. I am still amazed how everyone came together to help. Every department pitched in and went for that famous extra mile to meet the deadline. Still today, there is not a one single person I could not reach out to if I need help. In essence, that is what makes CFRA special.

What’s your favorite aspect of your job?
Independence. I am given the goals and know exactly how I’m measured, but I have the autonomy over my responsibilities and daily tasks.

Can you describe your typical day at CFRA?
Everyone shares the same values and is dedicated to the mission. Many companies talk about breaking down their silos, but here people do whatever it takes to get the job done – even if it’s not written in their job description. No egos, no politics. This is a first for me.

“At CFRA, the degree of freedom and flexibility in conducting research, coupled with the emphasis on integrity, performance and excellence, provides a healthy working environment which encourages collaboration, analytical rigor and a continuous drive for incremental improvement, while remaining cognizant of the need for work-life balance.”

What makes CFRA special?
Having worked with a large multinational corporation for close to a decade, I can testify that CFRA feels a lot more close-knit, where what each and every individual does is important and plays a part in the overall direction of the business. As we continue to grow, I believe it is very important to maintain this aspect of who we are.

What’s your favorite aspect of your job?
Even after being in research for close to 15 years, I'm happy to find that there will always be new things to learn on a daily basis, new ways of doing things, new challenges to tackle, whether strictly in research or in the day-to-day management of CFRA Malaysia.

Can you describe your typical day at CFRA?
I think the degree of freedom and flexibility in conducting research, coupled with the emphasis on integrity, performance and excellence, provides a healthy working environment which encourages collaboration, analytical rigor and a continuous drive for incremental improvement, while remaining cognizant of the need for work-life balance.

“I really enjoy helping clients uncover risks in their investment decisions, and thereby save money.”

What makes CFRA special?
People…even though I don’t get to work with everyone in our office as we expand and offer more products, I truly feel we are all on the same team, working towards the same goal of keeping our clients first in all that we do, by collaborating with each other to produce the best quality products that add value to our clients.

What’s your favorite aspect of your job?
Clients…Helping clients uncover risks in their investment decisions and thereby save money. It is really fun to uncover situations where management of public companies are trying to mislead investors.

Can you describe your typical day at CFRA?
People…I enjoy the work that I do, but more importantly I enjoy working and collaborating with our team.

“As a smaller company, everyone at CFRA is willing to wear whatever hat is needed on any given day, and do it well.”

What makes CFRA special?
There are numerous things, but one that stands out to me is the people. As a smaller company, everyone is willing to wear whatever hat is needed on any given day and do it well. I like the relaxed atmosphere combined with the fact that everyone is willing and able to buckle down when necessary. And, I think that’s embodied in our corporate culture where integrity and excellence are the expectation.

What’s your favorite aspect of your job?
A couple items. First, I really am thankful to be able to apply my education directly into my work. That has not always been the case in my career. Second, I’ve really enjoyed leading the financial audit process across all of our entities with our external auditors. It’s been a great learning process and has allowed me to develop a keener understanding of our financials across the company.

Can you describe your typical day at CFRA?
I work more closely with the senior management team on a more consistent basis. The insight into corporate strategy, goals, and performance has been welcome from a knowledge, understanding, and alignment perspective.

“I enjoy the freedom to provide independent research and provide my findings and conclusions without being influenced by other voices.”

What makes CFRA special?
The ability to provide unique, independent and actionable research across our forensic accounting, legal edge and equity research analyst teams is what truly differentiates our firm from all others. Providing views through all three lenses allows for differentiated idea generation while also offering diagnostic industry and company monitoring for risk assessment, which is unmatched in our industry.

What’s your favorite aspect of your job?
The freedom to provide independent research and provide my findings and conclusions without being influenced by other voices. Working with a great analytical team where insights can be cross-pollinated is also something I thoroughly enjoy and find as a major competitive advantage.

Can you describe your typical day at CFRA?
A typical day involves doing analysis on my underlying coverage universe (an equity analyst covers on average 40-50 companies) by staying abreast on key trends, attending/listening to company events/conferences and maintaining models. Significant time is then spent on providing that research insight obtained to our consumers in a well-thought-out manner via our instant reaction research notes as well as in-depth company stock reports. The remainder of my time is spent engaging with clients, often done with presentations, by phone or person.

“At CFRA, we have the freedom to explore new and unique ideas. We have the ability to become an industry expert and show our dedication to the quality of work we deliver.”

What makes CFRA special?
Everyone at CFRA genuinely loves research, and I believe that shows in the quality of work we deliver to clients. As a smaller firm, everyone has the opportunity to share new ideas and know that those ideas are heard and considered. You feel like the work you do really matters.

What’s your favorite aspect of your job?
I enjoy working with so many intelligent people who push me to approach ideas in new ways and always develop my skills. The environment offers a unique balance of challenge and collaboration.

Can you describe your typical day at CFRA?
One of my favorite things about CFRA is that every day can be so different. You have the freedom to explore new and unique ideas, dig deep into specific companies, became an industry expert, and of course, the market is always changing.

“CFRA takes great pride in the quality and independence of our analysis.”

What makes CFRA special?
CFRA takes great pride in the quality and independence of our analysis, underpinned by high caliber staff and a transparent, proven and rigorous research methodology.

What’s your favorite aspect of your job?
I like the opportunities to collaborate with colleagues from across the globe in generating investment ideas, and at the same time learning from their vast experience and knowledge in their respective fields.

Can you describe your typical day at CFRA?
A truly friendly and warm working environment, in which everyone is focused on the tasks at hand. Even though we are located in Kuala Lumpur, the constant communications with the team in the U.S., be it quarterly updates by the CEO or weekly sharing sessions, really makes me feel a part of the team.

“I get to work with people from so many different departments and projects, that there is no typical day at the office.”

What makes CFRA special?
The company culture. Everyone is very committed to what they are doing, and it’s great to see people here get acknowledged for their work and effort.

What’s your favorite aspect of your job?
I get to work with people from so many different departments and learn a lot from them. I also get to work on various and different projects that help me grow not only professionally but also personally.

Can you describe your typical day at CFRA?
There are no typical days! Every day is different because there are always new challenges and projects to tackle.

“If there’s something we want to invent or do differently, it doesn’t take a lot of yesses to go from idea to implementation.”

What makes CFRA special?
We’re a small firm, and we’re entrepreneurial. If there’s something we want to invent or do differently, it doesn’t take a lot of yesses to go from idea to implementation.

What’s your favorite aspect of your job?
Talking with clients. It’s fun to try and boil down a large amount of data on a given topic into the key points that investors need to know.

Can you describe your typical day at CFRA?
It’s a combination of being reactive and proactive. The news flow is usually early and so I’m sifting through the stories and new data releases to see if anything merits further commentary. If it’s during one of the quarterly earnings cycles, there’s a lot of blocking and tackling to get research notes out to clients as fast as is reasonably possible and to follow that up with a stock report update. If we’re off-peak, I have more time to be thoughtful on thematic ideas that I want to bring to clients that might tie together different parts of my sector (the Energy sector).

“CFRA’s core values are what keep us dedicated to always delivering the best for our clients.”

What makes CFRA special?
The investments being made into our firm, clients, and personnel to deliver on CFRA’s goal of being the most trusted global independent investment research provider is outstanding. Being surrounded by teammates who put our clients first, focus on integrity, promote courage, and push their peers towards excellence is why I wake up every morning to compete at CFRA. We have a world class research product that has outperformed the markets over long periods of time and is backed up by audited data. Every employee is focused on keeping the fly wheel moving - ensuring each subsequent day has more velocity than the previous.

What’s your favorite aspect of your job?
Being around people who take their internal relationships just as seriously as their external client relationships is a recurring theme across all business lines at CFRA and is what motivates me. We are a performance-based firm where you are encouraged to take risks and ownership of initiatives that will drive firm growth. There is never an idea that won’t be vetted by the executive management team if it is in the greater good of the firm.

Can you describe your typical day at CFRA?
There is no “typical day” at CFRA, but each day starts seeing the sun rise at my desk while catching up on the close of Asian markets and the open of European markets. From there, I organize client outreach before US markets open based upon new research that is being published. Once the bell rings, client meetings and calls commence as investors look to CFRA to understand complex accounting, legal and fundamental analysis. Once the closing bell rings, I re-adjust my focus to our West Coast clientele to ensure we are providing answers to tough questions and actionable insights across global markets. From Asian market open on Monday to US close on Friday – the only constant is no day is ever the same.

“At CFRA, there’s an infectious intellectual
curiosity that permeates the
corporate culture.”

What makes CFRA special?
CFRA has the best corporate culture I’ve experienced in my long career, and it cascades down from the CEO to all employees. There’s a pride and a tireless purpose to be the best, but never at the expense of integrity.

What’s your favorite aspect of your job?
My favorite part of my job is heading analyst training. We host several training sessions each quarter on exciting topics like effective research writing, statistical analysis, valuation, and complex forensic accounting. And while we bring in external resources when needed, we have so many highly accomplished professionals and academics working at CFRA that enjoy cross-pollinating skills to other employees.

Can you describe your typical day at CFRA?
That’s a tough question. I think one of the reasons I’ve been working as a research analyst for nearly 20 years is that every day is different.

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