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. 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: BB&T Capital Markets.

Profiles in punditry
When I first began writing this column, my aim was to learn more about a few of the lower profile analysts involved in the stock rating game -- and share what I learned with my fellow individual investors. I'm sticking with that second goal, but today I'll be expanding on the first one a bit -- because today's featured analyst is no low-profile stock jock and, in fact, no stranger to anyone residing in the mid-Atlantic states.

On the contrary, this analyst is a subsidiary of Winston-Salem-based BB&T (NYSE:BBT), a $22.7 billion giant of the banking world, and the 12th-largest financial-services company in the U.S. Its analyst arm makes its first appearance in this column by virtue of yesterday's upgrade from "hold" to "buy" of clothing retailer and Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation Pacific Sunwear (NASDAQ:PSUN). Before we address the merits of the recommendation, let's first introduce you to BB&T Capital Markets. Let's ...

Get to know this guru
Here's what Motley Fool CAPS has to say about today's featured banker:

BB&T Capital Markets provides corporate banking, investment banking, and capital markets services to commercial clients, corporate clients and government entities. The focus industries of the Equity Research Department include the following: Energy, Financial services, Furnishings and consumer durables, Healthcare, Industrial services, Retail and consumer, Technology, Transportation services.

Brought into the larger BB&T fold with the megabank's 1999 acquisition of Scott & Stringfellow Financial, BB&T Capital Markets' history stretches back more than a century to its founding in 1893. Today, it operates out of 45 retail offices, located primarily in the Southeast, and covers more than 300 different companies.

Are these guys any good?
So much for the firm's biography. What we really want to know about is its resume. When BB&T speaks, should investors listen?

Perhaps not. Its sterling pedigree and well-heeled backers notwithstanding, I'd think twice before taking BB&T's advice on those 300 stocks that it follows. The banker's record on the CAPS investor database -- with more than 30,500 ranked members -- is far from encouraging . With a 45% accuracy rating on CAPS, BB&T's buy/sell advice is statistically less likely to make you money than if you simply flipped a coin.

A few cases in point:

BB&T Says:

CAPS Says (out of 5):

BB&T's Pick Lagging S&P By:

Restoration Hardware (NASDAQ:RSTO)



43 points

Lennar (NYSE:LEN)



24 points

Kimball International (NASDAQ:KBALB)



9 points

Of course, even a middling player like BB&T gets a few calls right. The bank did well recommending:

BB&T Says:

CAPS Says:

BB&T's Pick Beating S&P By:

Houston Wire & Cable (NASDAQ:HWCC)



21 points

Raven Industries (NASDAQ:RAVN)



14 points

Meanwhile, back at PacSun
On PacSun in particular, BB&T lauds the firm's "good inventory levels, better merchandise presentation, and strong performance in the juniors and men's categories," concluding that "turnaround efforts initiated within the last six to nine months are on the verge of ... contributing to a potentially powerful earnings momentum ..."

I'm not impressed with PacSun. The firm's repeated dodging of my requests for an interview make me more than a little wary. Meanwhile, Tom Gardner, who recommended the stock to members of Motley Fool Stock Advisor in January of last year, notes in a recent update that PacSun "has come close to getting the axe from us a number of times." So color us jaded over the company's prospects.

That said, BB&T does have a point about inventories. Reviewing the firm's income statement and balance sheet over the last half-year or so, I see sales trending upward 7% year over year on average, while inventories subside at about a 5% rate. That should position the stores well for any downturn in consumer spending, while removing a source of margin pressure, helping PacSun maintain or improve profit margins if consumers keep spending. Between the rising sales and the falling inventories, PacSun's trailing-12-month inventory turns reached 4.8 times in the February-ending quarter, a level not seen in a year, and one that was maintained in the quarter that ended in May.

Foolish takeaway
In the final analysis, though, I remain unenthusiastic about either of the subjects of today's column. Neither PacSun  nor BB&T boasts a particularly good record. And while the inventory picture is indeed clearing up at PacSun, I'm forced to conclude that it remains a "show-me" stock at this time.

For a few of Tom's ideas that have worked out "a little better" (like by beating the S&P 500 by an average of 34 percentage points), 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. 1,373 out of more than 30,500 rated players. The Fool has a disclosure policy.