Analyst Costs Sherwin Williams Investors

If you read this blog regularly you know that I don’t listen to sell side research analysts. Upon hearing this I often get strange looks from prospective clients until I explain why. It’s pretty straight forward actually; analyst stock picks won’t make you any more money than a monkey will throwing darts at the Wall Street Journal stock tables.

Today’s example comes to us from Eric Bosshard, the FTN Midwest research analyst who covers Sherwin Williams (SHW). Collectively, Wall Street analysts were fairly bullish on Sherwin Williams coming into February. Of 9 analysts who follow the company there were 6 buy ratings, 3 holds, and no sells. Shares of SHW closed February 1st at $54 per share.

Last week, SHW and other paint makers lost a lawsuit claiming public nuisance for selling lead paint in Rhode Island in the 1970’s. Shares of SHW tumbled to as low as $37.40 last Thursday, before rebounding to close at $45.55 yesterday. As the stock fell from $54 to $37, nobody upgraded the stock to “buy”. Now we can say the lawsuit uncertainty prevented them from recommending the stock, but very few people could make the case that a public nuisance verdict against SHW should cost the company 31% of its market value in a single day.

There was one analyst who changed his rating. Eric Bosshard of FTN Midwest pulled his “buy” rating on Thursday morning. As you can see from the chart below, his call marked the bottom, and it quickly rebounded more than 20 percent in a matter of days. I don’t want to even think about how many people sold Thursday morning after his call.

This type of story plays out all too often on Wall Street. What’s worse is what will likely happen from here. Afraid of looking like an idiot, Bosshard will probably keep his “hold” rating, hoping for further downside that will vindicate his call. The stock will continue to rise and eventually get all the way back to its old highs. With the problems in the past, he’ll recommend the stock citing “diminished uncertainty surrounding the Rhode Island verdict”. FTN Midwest clients will have bought high and sold low.

Perhaps what’s most striking about this story is the fact that on the very day that FTN downgraded the stock, Sherwin Williams insiders, including Chairman and CEO Christopher Connor, were buying shares in the open market. Pretty ironic if you ask me.