Here 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." In our recurring column "This Just In," we cover the most headline-worthy upgrades and downgrades, testing the analysts' logic and examining their records to help you decide whether they're worth listening to at all. And in "Get to Know a Guru," we use upgrade and downgrade news as a springboard to introduce you to some of the lesser-known names in analyst land. Up this week: Calyon Securities.

Profiles in punditry
The long-suffering airline industry received another kick upside the head yesterday, as Calyon Securities downgraded two of the major players -- UAL  (NASDAQ:UAUA) and AirTran (NYSE:AAI). Calyon reduced the former airline's stock from "buy" to "add," and the latter's from "add" to "neutral."

(Speaking of which, if anyone has figured out how to add a stock to your portfolio without buying it, please clue me in. I'd love to "accumulate" some free shares, downgraded or not.)

According to the analyst, both airlines will suffer from rising fuel prices. Meanwhile, Calyon expects a no-longer-bankrupt Delta Airlines (NYSE:DAL) to compete with AirTran on price on routes radiating out from AirTran's Atlanta hub, squeezing margins. Calyon also echoed a sentiment, that its colleagues at Prudential expressed last month in regard to Southwest (NYSE:LUV). To wit, the bigger AirTran gets (by expanding capacity), the emptier its planes become. According to Calyon, this will hamstring AirTran's efforts to charge high prices. The laws of supply and demand dictate that all other things being equal, when AirTran increases the supply of seats, its prices will fall.

All of which sounds logical, and all of which is beside the point of this column. That being: to introduce you to the company making these downgrades. So without further ado, let's leave the airlines to their flying and get to know this guru.

Calyon, take me away
A subsidiary of French financial behemoth Credit Agricole, Calyon is not yet a household name in the U.S., at least not at the level of a JPMorgan Chase or Citigroup. So to introduce you to the firm, here's what CAPS has to say about it:

Calyon is a global bank with commercial and investment banking products and services for corporate and institutional clients. Headquartered in Paris, with offices in 60 countries around the world, Calyon has assets of roughly $380 billion. The U.S. Equity Research team of Calyon Securities is based out of New York and composed of 9 analysts covering 79 companies. The team focuses on the following industries: autos and auto parts, gaming, lodging and leisure, natural gas, power and utilities, oil and gas exploration, oil services and equipment, media and Internet, cable equipment, and financial services.

To which I'd add that Calyon also does airlines. Reviewing the firm's website, it appears that since we prepared our profile, Calyon has expanded its coverage into this sector (and added insurance, too). Counterintuitively, it's reduced its analyst staff by one and now has just eight analysts juggling all this work.

Are these guys any good?
When I read over the grab bag of industries that Calyon covers, my first thought is that these poor nine analysts must be a bit stretched. But don't cry for them just yet. What you may not know about Calyon is that, according to Motley Fool CAPS, Calyon Securities is the No. 1 best Wall Street analyst among those we track. That's right. Numero uno. The big cheese. The firm at the top of the list of the 11 firms receiving the coveted title "Wall Street's Best" on CAPS.

Since we began tracking the firm last year, it's secured this ranking with picks like the following:


Calyon Says:

CAPS Says: (Out of 5)

Calyon's Pick Beating S&P By:

Republic Airways



25 points

Continental Airlines



19 points

Embraer (NYSE:ERJ)



4 points

In fact, Calyon scores a sterling 99.80 CAPS rating, with accuracy verging on 66%, meaning the firm gets its calls right nearly twice as often as it goofs.

Foolish takeaway
So getting back to our primary question -- is Calyon a firm whose analysts deserve your attention? I give that an unqualified "yes." These guys are good.

Who else is good? Motley Fool Stock Advisor. While he picked a real dog in recommending JetBlue back in 2004, Fool co-founder and Stock Advisor co-lead-analyst David Gardner definitely made the right call when putting (Calyon-endorsed) Embraer in our portfolio -- the stock has more than doubled the S&P 500's return since recommendation. An interesting bit of trivia here: One of Embraer's clients is the also-Calyon-endorsed Republic Airways.

For more of David's high-flying stock picks, pick up a free copy of Stock Advisor as you exit this column.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. You can find him on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No. 460 out of more than 30,000 rated players. JPMorgan Chase is a Motley Fool Income Investor pick. The Fool has a disclosure policy.