Different analysts have different views on stocks, even if they lean towards bullishness. But when it comes to Canadian stocks - especially the big, iconic ones that attract international attention - Canadian analysts tend to be more enthusiastic than their non-Canadian counterparts.
In some cases, a lot more: The difference in target prices is nothing short of startling, and certainly raises the question of whether investors should be siding with the home team or the visitors.
We examined five Canadian stocks that are followed widely outside Canada, drawing from a variety of sectors. Our selection: Research In Motion Ltd. , Tim Hortons Inc., Barrick Gold Corp. , Magna International Inc. and Thomson Reuters .
In every case, Canadian analysts (or at least Canadian-based brokerages) were more bullish - and in most cases, the differences were not trivial.
"I don't think there's any doubt that Canadian analysts tend to favour Canadian stocks," said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall MacDougall & MacTier.
Research In Motion Ltd., the BlackBerry maker and by far the biggest name among Canadian technology stocks, offers a clear example. The stock has suffered recently because of concerns about how the company will fare in an increasingly competitive market for wireless handsets.
However, concerns are highest among non-Canadian analysts. This group has an average 12-month price target of $59.13 (U.S.), which is well above the stock's current price in New York. However, Canadian analysts look as though they are sizing up a completely different company: Their average price target is $85.36, or an amazing 44 per cent higher than the non-Canadians.
Admittedly, this is an extreme example. But it isn't the only one. In the case of Magna, Canadian analysts have an average target price of $106 on the auto parts manufacturer. That's more than 20 per cent higher than the target price from non-Canadian analysts.
For Thomson-Reuters, Canadian analysts are 18 per cent more bullish. For Barrick Gold, they are nearly 13 per cent more bullish. And for Tim Hortons, Canadians are about 5 per cent more bullish.
This isn't nationalism at work. Instead, it is more likely due to the fact that Canadian analysts tend to have fewer companies - and fewer marquee names - from which to make their top stock picks because they tend to be more focused on Canadian companies. Here, RIM is the name in tech and Magna is the name in auto parts. Therefore, the stocks get more attention.
On the other hand, non-Canadian analysts have a bigger universe and can afford to be pickier. Here, being Canadian means nothing at all.