At The Motley Fool, we poke plenty of fun at Wall Street analysts and their endless cycle of upgrades, downgrades, and "initiating coverage at neutral." So you might think we'd be the last people to give virtual ink to such "news." And we would be -- if that were all we were doing.

But in "This Just In," we don't simply tell you what the analysts said. We'll also show you whether they know what they're talking about. To help, we've enlisted Motley Fool CAPS, our tool for rating stocks and analysts alike. With CAPS, we track the long-term performance of Wall Street's best and brightest -- and its worst and sorriest, too.

And speaking of the best ...
Seems Citigroup has decided to take a roadtrip this week, going way outside U.S. borders, and way out on a limb, to upgrade the shares of a couple companies that I'd lay long odds on you've never having heard of before. (Caveat: If you subscribe to either Motley Fool Income Investor or Global Gains, I'm not taking the bet.)

The companies in question are -- and you'd best take a seat, because it'll take a while to read these off -- Perusahaan Perseroan Perseropt PTelekomunikasi Indonesia tbk, a.k.a. "P. T. Telekomunikasi," a.k.a. Telkom Indonesia  (NYSE:TLK). And Indosat tbk PT (NYSE:IIT). (That one was a little easier.) Together, they make up the bulk of the telecom industry for the nation of Indonesia.

Why does Citi love 'em? Your guess is as good as mine, because the sad fact of the matter is that not a single major media site that I've checked has any details whatsoever on the upgrades. Whether this is because Citi didn't provide any details, or because the mainstream media took one look at the names of the companies in questions and decided -- "too hard" -- I cannot say.

Let's go to the tape
What I can tell you, though, is that whatever Citi's reason for liking the Indonesian telecoms, the odds seem to favor it being right. Consider Citi's record in the telecom sphere, and I think you'll see what I mean:


Number of Recommendations
in Past Two Years

CAPS says:

Citi's Picks Beating
(Lagging) S&P By:

Qwest (NYSE:Q)



45 points

Telefonos de Mexico



42 points




15 points

Verizon (NYSE:VZ)



10 points

America Movil (NYSE:AMX)



(5 points)

And in case you're wondering, I think we can overlook the fact that Citi hasn't yet weighed in on Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S). The banker is shooting four-for-five on the stocks it has picked, and the margin of its outperformance is wide indeed. Essentially, of the seven picks sketched out above, Citi's scoring 86% on accuracy, and outperforming the market by more than 15 points per pick -- numbers far in excess of the firm's overall CAPS record of just 50% accuracy, and 1 point average outperformance. 

Fools rush in
Now personally, I have to say that neither Telkom Indonesia nor Indosat is quite my cup of tea. Both stocks sell for a 15 P/E -- more expensive than any of AT&T, Verizon, or Qwest. Neither is expected to grow much faster than 5% a year over the next half decade (albeit, I should point out that neither firm enjoys much analyst coverage at all -- one each -- so take that estimate with a grain of salt). Still, that's basically on par with what the consensus of (many) analysts has for AT&T and Verizon. (Qwest is pegged for next to no growth.)

Dividend-wise , Indosat yields 3.4%, while Telkom Indonesia will pay you 5.8% to own its stock. Which sounds good until you realize that you can earn a fatter dividend off of almost any U.S. telecom (Sprint excepted). AT&T, Verizon, and Qwest all pay in excess of 6%.

Foolish takeaway
Between the pricey valuations and the mediocre, relatively speaking, dividend payouts, I do not see the sense in following Citi on its globetrotting roadtrip to Indonesia today. Seems to me, there are better telecom bargains right here in the U.S. of A. But given Citi's track record, I have to admit -- if you want to ignore my thoughts and follow the lead of a stellar telecom stock picker, Citi's your star.

Sprint Nextel is anInside Valuerecommendation. Telkom Indonesia is both an  Income Investor  and  Global Gains recommendation, and it's joined in the latter service by America Movil.

Fool contributorRich Smith does not own any stock named above -- and per the Fool's black-gold standarddisclosure policy, cannot trade in any such stock for at least 10 days after this article posts. That's just how we roll at the Fool.

You can find Rich on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No. 742 out of more than 130,000 members.