Merrill Lynch's Haim Israel was voted the country's best financial analyst in 2006 in a survey released this month by magazine Institutional Investor, which polled more than 300 buy-side analysts and portfolio managers at more than 240 institutions managing some $119 billion in emerging European, Middle Eastern and African (EMEA) equities. Israel was lauded by "Institutional Investor" for having been among the first to warn that high fuel prices would hurt pesticide manufacturer Makhteshim-Agan Industries, a major exporter. By the end of 2006, the company's shares had sunk five percent. Israel told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday the poll's findings were a result of "our detailed and balanced coverage during the Lebanon war last summer - the fact that we didn't panic was very much appreciated by our clientele." "Merrill did not discount the worst-case scenarios, but kept our eyes on the fundamentals," he said. Israel and Merrill overtook the long-term leader in the category Joseph Wolf and his team at UBS, which finished in second place followed by Daniel Harverd and team from Deutsche Bank, making its debut on the list. The magazine noted that the UBS team maintained its long-standing "buy" recommendation on fertilizer manufacturer Israel Chemicals even as sales plunged 40% over prolonged contract negotiations with China. After the deal was finalized, the shares rebounded and with the stock up 135% by November, Wolf downgraded the shares to "hold" in a valuation call, Institutional Investor noted. Wolf, however, did earn high-marks from at least one client quoted by the magazine for "keeping his head in what could have been a tight-spot" after former team-leader Jonathan Half left last March to join a hedge-fund. Deutsche Bank's Harverd, meanwhile, earned the magazine's acclaim for "digging deeper" to uncover short-term trading opportunities among the market's less widely followed names. "Institutional Investor noted, for instance, that the firm was the first global brokerage to initiate coverage of real estate developer Africa Israel Properties, with Harverd recommending the shares, saying in July that he like the company's exposure to Russian properties. By year-end the shares had gained about 14%.