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Byline: JAMES DETAR
It's been a rough couple years for stock analysts.
Well-documented have been federal investigations of securities firms over suspected conflicts of interest between their investment banking and analytical functions. The upshot includes fines and sanctions against firms such as Merrill Lynch & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and against former big-name analysts like Jack Grubman and Henry Blodget.
Also well-documented have been the changes, mandated and voluntary, in the way investment banks do business.
Less documented has been one of those changes: Many analysts can't talk with the press anymore, or they don't. And those that do often are, by company policy, much more cautious. But some new rules are expected within weeks that could clarify the situation.
Because interplay between these analysts and reporters is a foundation of business news, observers say the result is a loss for investors. They might not be getting all the info they need to make sound investment decisions.
"The upshot is the information flow to investors is slowed way down. The new rules punish no one more than the investor community," said Sue Billat, a consultant with Benchmark Strategies in San Jose, Calif., and a former stock analyst. "I'm seeing a …