Your Favorite Analyst's Favorite Analyst: Which Sell Side Firm Has The Most Buy Ratings From Its Peers?

Bank of America BAC recently upgraded shares of Barclays PLC (ADR) BCS by two notches from Underperform to Buy.

BofA Merrill Lynch cited the underperformance of Barclays' shares and depressed earnings expectations as the reason for its improved assessment.

Financial firms are in a sector where it's necessary to rate each other's performance — a sort of peer review. The question is whether they can adopt an unbiased stance on firms with  which they compete or cooperate.

A research paper on this issue, "Are Analysts' Recommendations for Other Investment Banks Biased," published in December 2013, suggests analysts give optimistic recommendations for investment banks with which their bank is syndicated.

A syndicate, according to Investopedia, is forging of a temporary relationship among financial services firms for handling a large transaction, which might otherwise be difficult to handle individually.

Benzinga looked at which Wall Street firm has the most number of top-notch ratings accorded to it by its peer group. One must keep in mind that the numbers are also a function of factors such as a covered company's size and how widely it's held.  

The ratings are sourced from TipRanks, an analytics firm that tracks and measures performance of over 50,000 financial experts.

See also: A Bounty With Bank ETFs? Maybe

Only major financial institutions and big regional banks were taken into account for comparison purposes. The companies are ranked from those having the most positive opinions to the least:

Citigroup Inc C – 9 Buy, 2 Hold and 1 Sell
Bank of America Corp BAC – 8 Buy and 4 Hold
KeyCorp KEY – 7 Buy and 2 Hold
JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM – 5 Buy and 5 Hold
Morgan Stanley MS – 5 Buy and 3 Hold
PNC Financial Services Group Inc PNC – 4 Buy and 8 Hold
Wells Fargo & Co WFC – 4 Buy, 7 Hold and 2 Sell
Bank Of The Ozarks Inc OZRK – 4 Buy and 1 Hold
SunTrust Banks, Inc. STI – 3 Buy and 9 Hold
BB&T Corporation BBT – 3 Buy and 7 Hold
M&T Bank Corporation MTB – 2 Buy, 3 Hold and 1 Sell
Regions Financial Corp RF – 2 Buy, 5 Hold and 1 Sell
Goldman Sachs Group Inc GS – 1 Buy, 4 Hold and 1 Sell
Deutsche Bank AG (USA) DB – 1 Buy
UBS Group AG (USA) UBS – 1 Buy
Piper Jaffray Companies PJC – 1 Buy and 1 Hold
Fifth Third Bancorp FITB – 1 Buy, 5 Hold and 2 Sell
State Street Corp STT – 3 Hold
HSBC Holdings plc (ADR) HSBC – 1 Sell

Citi takes the honors of being the firm with the most number of Buy ratings — nine — with BofA closely following with eight Buys. KeyBanc, with its seven Buy ratings, occupies the third position.

Citi has an average price target of $77.50, according to TipRanks, suggesting 7.25 percent upside. BofA's average price target of $28.42 presents it with an upside potential of 6.60 percent. KeyCorp has an average price target of $20.64, with the potential upside being 13.66 percent.

Among large Wall Street firms, Goldman fares badly, with just one Buy rating and an average price target of $245.20, suggesting 3.71 percent upside.

Related Link: Bernstein Gets Bullish On Mid-Cap Banks

Posted In: Bank of AmericaBank of the OzarksBarclaysBB&TCitigroupDeutsche BankFifth Third BancorpGoldman SachsHSBCJPMorgankeycorpM&TMorgan StanleyPiper Jaffraypncregions financialState StreetSunTrustTipRanksUBSWells FargoAnalyst ColorAnalyst RatingsTrading Ideas