His official title at Merrill Lynch is first vice president. Most people, however, know Henry Blodget simply as one of the most quoted and (until recently, anyway) bullish Internet analysts on Wall Street.
Blodget earned his reputation in 1998, when he was an analyst with CIBC Oppenheimer, with one stunning call: He predicted that Amazon's shares, then trading at $243, would hit $400 within a year. The seemingly outlandish pronouncement was scoffed at by many in the industry, including rival Internet analyst Jonathan Cohen at Merrill Lynch, who said the stock was wildly overvalued. Within 14 trading days, however, the price had broken through Blodget's $400 target. Two months later, Blodget had Cohen's job.
Meanwhile, analysts and investors saw Blodget's predictive success not as a fluke, but a model. Since that Amazon call, many analysts, goaded by investors, no longer just set earnings estimates for companies: They also name a specific target price that they expect a company's stock to reach. For his part, the 34-year-old Blodget has become a bit more selective in placing his bets. More recently, he predicted that the majority of Web startups will be kaput in three to five years, and, to much media fanfare, downgraded his ratings on Amazon and several other Web stocks he follows. (The move, coming several months after the Nasdaq's nosedive, was criticized by some as too little, too late.) But early or late, bullish or bearish, one constant remains: When Blodget talks, people listen.