New York Times business columnist Joe Nocera is unambiguous about his pick.
Although Lehman has been the number one rated equity research shop (again, according to Institutional Investor), that just shows how flawed such ratings are. Everybody on Wall Street knows that Sanford Bernstein does by far the best equity research on the Street. It tends to hire former industry players like Brad Hintz, who was once Lehman Brothers' chief financial officer, to cover the industries they were once part of. Mr. Hintz; Craig Moffett, the lead telecommunications and cable analyst; Mr. Sacconaghi, who is the technology axe; and a raft of others give Bernstein's research a depth -- an intelligence, really -- that no other firm can match.
So who do you think is the best research shop? We'll take nominations in comments and put up a poll once we have enough suitable candidates.