Revealed: the best fixed income research

You''ve been reading their comments for the past few days. Now find out who investors think are Asia''s best

After polling the top 100 fund management firms investing in Asian credits, the results of FinanceAsia's fifth annual fixed income research poll are in, and the results show some astounding changes at the top.

Last year, it will be recalled, the Merrill Lynch-Chris Francis machine dominated our poll, topping four out of six categories. Merrill lost out in High Yield, where CSFB dominated, and in Bank credits. This year, Abdul Hussain's second-ranked CSFB team held the top place in High Yield, but Merrill must come to grips with the fact that it has lost the top slot in three categories (Sovereign research, Strategy, and Macroeconomic research). Merrill's Jason Carley and team retain the top slot in Investment Grade research.

Indeed, this year's poll demonstrates an incredible fragmentation in the market, with no single house dominating as Merrill did in the past. Damien Wood and his team at ING Barings claim the top spot in Bank credit research, while Greg Batey and Bernhard Eschweiler of JPMorgan claim Macroeconomic research. John Woods of HSBC and his team claim top place in fixed income and credit strategy, and came joint-top with Citibank Solly's Ivan Lee/ Steve Taran and team for Sovereign research.

And it wasn't just Merrill that showed slippage. Primary markets powerhouse, Goldman Sachs has given ground (see link at bottom to last year's result), as has Morgan Stanley.

And when it came to persistent all-round performance throughout all six categories the overall winner was the flow-machine, Deutsche Bank. Without winning any single category, it nevertheless came near the top in virtually every category and thus was victorious overall (see methodology bottom).

Meanwhile, another consistent performer was UBS Warburg. Again, while it did not win any of the six categories, its fixed income research head, Stephen Cheng ran away with the award for Best Fixed Income Analyst.

In another interesting result, investors have changed their views dramatically about online bond trading. In the midst of the internet euphoria last year, 60% thought they would use an online bond trading portal in the coming 12 months. This time the number had slipped to 34%, with only 15.5% saying they were 'very likely' to use a BondsinAsia or asiabondportal in the next year.

Below are the full results:

Best overall in Fixed Income Research

Macro research

Asian bank research

Investment grade

High Yield

Sovereign

Strategy

total

Deutsche

34

31

29

30

26

28

178

JPMorgan

36

25

31

25

26

29

172

CSFB

30

29

27

39

20

27

172

ING Barings

20

41

25

34

23

23

166

UBS Warburg

27

36

24

20

25

27

159

HSBC

27

20

26

14

30

31

148

Citibank Salomon Smith Barney

23

22

20

23

30

18

136

Merrill Lynch

30

16

35

9

14

21

125

Goldman Sachs

25

15

18

5

9

14

86

Morgan Stanley

20

13

13

9

11

11

77

BA Asia

8

5

13

9

8

9

52

Barclays Capital

9

10

13

3

5

6

46

Lehman Brothers

12

2

9

8

5

8

44

ABN AMRO

8

7

5

3

4

6

33

BNP Paribas

5

3

2

5

2

3

20

Best Asian Regional Macroeconomic Research

JPMorgan

36

1

Deutsche

34

2

CSFB

30

3

Merrill Lynch

30

3

UBS Warburg

27

5

HSBC

27

5

Goldman Sachs

25

7

Citibank Salomon Smith Barney

23

8

ING Barings

20

9

Morgan Stanley

20

10

Best in Asian Bank and Financial Sector Credits

ING Barings

41

1

UBS Warburg

36

2

Deutsche

31

3

CSFB

29

4

JPMorgan

25

5

Citibank Salomon Smith Barney

22

6

HSBC

20

7

Merrill Lynch

16

8

Goldman Sachs

15

9

Morgan Stanley

13

10

Best on Asian Investment Grade Credits

Merrill Lynch

35

1

JPMorgan

31

2

Deutsche

29

3

CSFB

27

4

HSBC

26

5

ING Barings

25

6

UBS Warburg

24

7

Citibank Salomon Smith Barney

20

8

Goldman Sachs

18

9

Barclays Capital

13

10

Morgan Stanley

13

10

Best on Asian High Yield/ Distressed Credits

CSFB

39

1

ING Barings

34

2

Deutsche

30

3

JPMorgan

25

4

Citibank Salomon Smith Barney

23

5

UBS Warburg

20

6

HSBC

14

7

BA Asia

9

8

Merrill Lynch

9

8

Morgan Stanley

9

8

Best Research on Asian Sovereign Credits

Citibank Salomon Smith Barney

30

1

HSBC

30

1

JPMorgan

26

3

Deutsche

26

3

UBS Warburg

25

5

ING Barings

23

6

CSFB

20

7

Merrill Lynch

14

8

Morgan Stanley

11

9

Goldman Sachs

9

10

Best Asian Fixed Income and Credit Strategy

HSBC

31

1

JPMorgan

29

2

Deutsche

28

3

CSFB

27

4

UBS Warburg

27

4

ING Barings

23

6

Merrill Lynch

21

7

Citibank Salomon Smith Barney

18

8

Goldman Sachs

14

9

Morgan Stanley

11

10

Best analyst

Stephen Cheng, UBS Warburg

16

Abdul Hussain, CSFB

6

Damien Wood, ING Barings

5

John Woods, HSBC

4

Scott Wilson, UBS Warburg

4

Kevin Aepli, CSFB

3

Tony Watson, ING Barings

3

Barclay Morrison, Deutsche

2

Charles Ooi, UBS Warburg

2

Ivan Lee, Citibank SSB

2

PK Basu, CSFB

2

How likely are you to use online bond portals in the next 12 months?

Very likely

15

15.45%

Likely

18

18.54%

Neutral

27

27.81%

Not likely

24

24.72%

Very unlikely

19

19.57%

Name the international credit rating agency whose research and rating actions most strongly influence your investment decisions in Asia

S&P

51%

Moody's

43%

Fitch

6%

What is your preferred way of receiving research?

Email attachment

98

Published on paper

36

Online download

28

Methodology:

We sent the poll by email to fund managers investing in Asian credits from around the globe. After three weeks of polling, we received 117 responses from over 100 fund management houses. In some cases more than one fund manager from a particular firm voted.

Fund managers were asked to vote in all categories and were able to vote for "all banks that apply". Thus, for example, if a fund manager thought that Bank A and Bank B were excellent in Sovereign research they could click on both and both banks would get one point each.

The only difference to this methodology applied in the 'Best Analyst' category where we asked for the best candidate. If a voter put more than one analyst down we divided the point accordingly eg if two were named, each got 0.5, if three, each got 0.33 and so forth.

Please note that while all 117 voters expressed a preference in all six house categories, a large number left the 'Best Analyst' category blank. We deduce that they only voted for a particular analyst if they really liked the analyst in question.

For a full list of the fund management firms that participated, see the full results in the November issue of FinanceAsia Magazine.

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