“I find I increasingly get a lot more out of reading blogs than sell-side research. I am doing more and more primary research myself, and blogs form a very important part of that process.”
I agree with Enck’s thesis, but that’s only part of the picture. The general trend is towards greater use of primary unfiltered sources, which is precisely what my company, Nitron Advisors, does.
Quoting from the press release that we used in launching Nitron:
Nitron can provide far more insight than traditional research:
Nitron’s only role is to quickly connect investors with the most appropriate and insightful experts. The firm does not manage money and has no investment banking business. As a result, Nitron’s only incentive is to provide its clients with unbiased insight. Investors get information direct from the source, rather than getting information through two, three or even four intermediaries all of which can trade ahead of them. Nitron is far cheaper than alternative sources of research, taking into account the quality of the firm’s experts and the speed with which Nitron provides clients access to the right expert for their needs.
There are three primary drivers behind the growth in demand for expert-matching services:
The first driver of demand is the ever-more-perfect efficiency of the markets. The overwhelming majority of investors underperform the indices. Regulation FD makes management’s proclamations a commodity instantly reflected by the market. Investors need unique, creative, frontline insights to truly differentiate themselves from the vast armies of competitors. Traditional research methods give investors data only after it has passed through 2, 3, or even 4 pairs of hands. Ironically, Nitron is a middleman who helps to cut out the traditional middlemen: the sell-side research analysts, the journalists, the research firms, and so on. The second driver of demand is the fact that sell-side firms, the traditional producers of research, are heavily conflicted. Recent events have dramatically publicized this problem. The Precursor Group found that 95% of the 82 firms ranked by the Wall Street Journal as the “Best Stock Pickers on the Street”, and 100% of Institutional Investor’s 2000 top investment research firms, have line of business research conflicts.  Nitron recently performed a survey of hedge fund managers and found that most professional investors use sell-side firms for execution and capital commitment, not for their research per se. The third driver of demand is the ever-increasing time pressure on buy-side analysts. They rely on direct communication with experts (sell-side analysts, frontline industry experts, etc.) who can provide them real-time insight and market-moving information. They do not usually have the time to conduct in-depth industry research. The more they can outsource to experts, the easier their job is.