Case | HBS Case Collection | November 2004 (Revised March 2007)

10 Uncommon Values®: Optimizing the Stock-Selection Process

by Paul M. Healy and Boris Groysberg

Abstract

In 2003, Steve Hash, research director at Lehman Brothers, prepared to initiate the firm's "Ten Uncommon Values" stock-picking process for the year. An investment committee had to pick the 10 best stocks from about 100 stock ideas presented by the firm's analysts. The performance of the stocks selected for the Ten Uncommon Values had historically been strong--an investment strategy to acquire the recommended stocks and hold them for one year would have outperformed the S&P 500 for 39 of the last 54 years. However, during the latest three years--2000 to 2002--the recommendations had performed poorly, generating an average return of -22.5% vs. -11.7% for the S&P 500. Hash pondered several questions: What was the importance of the Ten Uncommon Values for Lehman Brothers and its clients? How much time and effort should the firm put into the process of selecting stocks for the report? How many members should be on the Investment Policy Committee, and who should be selected? What should the process for selection be? Should analysts whose stocks were selected be compensated for their picks? Finally, should they continue the process? Teaching Purpose: Using both qualitative and quantitative data, to allow students to discuss a range of issues: the optimal process of selecting stocks, the optimal size of the committee, how much time to spend with each analyst, private or public voting on stocks by the committee members, the right decision-making process, and whether incentives play a role in the process.

Keywords: Stocks; Investment; Financial Strategy; Decision Making; Groups and Teams; Financial Services Industry; United States;

Citation:

Healy, Paul M., and Boris Groysberg. "10 Uncommon Values®: Optimizing the Stock-Selection Process." Harvard Business School Case 405-022, November 2004. (Revised March 2007.)