If you have ever watched a financial news program, you have probably heard the reporter reference "analysts." These analysts are typically sell-side analysts and are believed to provide an unbiased opinion based on proprietary research on a company's securities.
Simply put, the job of a sell-side research analyst is to follow a list of companies, all typically in the same industry, and provide regular research reports to the firm's clients. As part of that process, the analyst will typically build models to project the firms' financial results, as well as speak with customers, suppliers, competitors, and other sources with knowledge of the industry.
From the public's standpoint, the ultimate outcome of the analyst's work is a research report, a set of financial estimates, a price target, and a recommendation as to the stock's expected performance. The estimates derived from the models of several sell-side analysts also can be averaged together to come up with a single expectation called the consensus estimate.
Wall Street Analyst ratings are Wall Street analysts’ ratings on a particular stock, and not ratings from Seeking Alpha authors. Seeking Alpha collects all the analyst data from third party sources and assigns an aggregated rating from Very Bearish (sell) to Very Bullish (buy).
Seeking Alpha authors rate the stocks they write about every time they publish a new article, from Very Bullish (buy) to Very Bearish (sell). We then aggregate every author’s rating within the past 90 days and combine it to create the overall Author Rating.
The ratings simply provide a snapshot overview of the overall sentiment between these two groups.
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