When BP oil spill in the Gulf Coast first became news, the company’s shares started to drop. According to the Huffington Post, the unfolding crisis incited a mad dash on Wall Street, with dozens of securities analysts encouraging investors to “buy, buy, buy” BP (BP.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) (BP.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).
Among those to jump into the fray were Credit Suisse, Citigroup, and Morgan Stanley. Thomson Reuters says that of 34 analysts that rated the BP shares as recently as May 11, 27 gave “buy” or “outperform” ratings. 7 rated the shares with a “hold.” None of the analysts gave the shares an “underperform” or “sell” rating.
As estimates of how much oil was being spilt grew and was coupled with news of BP’s unsuccessful efforts to stop the leak, BP stock kept dropping, destroying some $100 billion in shareholder wealth. Unfortunately, when Wall Street makes mistakes, it is the investors that end up losing money.
Some experts saying that with so many analysts making the wrong call, the BP crisis has exposed the problems that continue to plague the sell-side analyst community despite all the reform that has been implemented in the last 10 years. Some investment firms are afraid to be left out, which can contribute to what appears to be an existing “group think” mentality. Analysts may also be unwilling to challenge companies for fear of jeopardizing their relationship with leading executives-a classic case of conflict of interest.
Meantime, the analysts are coming to their own defense. They say that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was unprecedented and therefore it was hard to predict its outcome and related financial ramifications. Granted, as the risks became more obvious, many on Wall Street downgraded their buy ratings to more cautious notes. Natixis and Goldman were among those that lowered their ratings from “buy” to “hold” or neutral.” There were also a small group of analysts that did accurately call the effects the oil spill would have on BP’s stock prices.
Related Web Resources:
Wall Street Said ‘Buy, Buy, Buy’ BP Stock As Gulf Crisis Unfolded, The Huffington Post, June 18, 2010
BP Stock Sinks Back Near Oil-Spill Low, The Street, June 22, 2010
A Timeline of the BP Oil Spill Crisis, WallStCheatSheet.com, May 6, 2010
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