After all, equity analysts aren't really in the business of helping clients make buy/sell decisions, their only real value comes from acting as an intermediary to setup the coveted 1x1's at lavish conferences in Miami between the hedge funds who pay them and the management teams of the companies they cover. And, of course, it's much harder to get those management teams to attend your conference if you spread too much truth about their future potential.
But, for those who still aren't convinced, the Economist took a look at wall street equity research ratings for the S&P 500 last year and found that just 6% of all ratings were "sell/underperform" ratings.
In December 2016, the Economist conducted a study off all the equity analyst ratings for the 500 or so stocks in the Standard and Poor's 500 index. The study found that 49 percent of the total ratings on those stocks were "buy/outperform" ratings, 45 percent were "hold/neutral ratings" and only 6 percent of total ratings were "sell/underperform" ratings.
Roughly half of S&P 500 stocks underperformed the overall index in 2016, and about 30 percent of the stocks generated negative overall returns on the year.