Interview: Stock to Pitch

I have an interview coming up in the next few weeks for a position in the sales/trading/research analyst program at my current employer. It is a given that I will be asked to pitch a stock and want to begin brushing up on a few specific companies, however I am having trouble which to choose. I’ve been told to not focus on very popular companies (apple or google) and was also given a tip to pick three industries I think will thrive over the next few months and choose the best company in each.

Any thought or opinions? Any tips in general?

My advice is that the quality of your pitch and how differentiated and insightful it is matters much more than what company you choose. That said, you’re generally best off picking a company that has enough float where it makes sense to the fund - generally about $1 billion in market cap is the sweet spot, since it’s large enough for many bigger funds to take a position and small enough where it’s not widely covered. You generally don’t want to pick a company that’s widely covered, i.e. 20+ sell-side analysts following it, as you’re putting yourself in more of a position to getting picked apart.

I think picking an industry is less of a valuable exercise for recruiting than coming up with specific company recommendation. When I interviewed potential candidates in equity research – and I conducted about 30 of them myself – I was always more interested in their specific company views rather than an industry. While it’s true that individual companies generally move with their industry, your job in sales/trading/research will be to come up with specific stock picks…you generally don’t add much value by recommending an industry basket.

Ideally you want to have at least one long and one short that you know inside and out. It’s good to have a third pick if you have time but it’s not as important.

Now your hard work begins – coming up with the actual ideas. Best of luck and keep us posted…