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'll be tracking the long-term performance of Wall Street's best and brightest ... and worst and sorriest, too.

And speaking of the worst ...
Under the category of "do me a favor; don't do me any favors," salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM) recoiled in horror at the sight of Broadpoint Capital endorsing its stock last week. The analyst "initiated coverage" of the leading on-demand software provider on Friday, rating the stock a buy. salesforce shares dropped nearly 2% in response.

OK, maybe this was because all stocks were dropping like flies on Friday. But maybe it was because Broadpoint is just that bad. To see what I'm talking about, take a look at a few of its PC/software picks:

Company

Broadpoint Said:

CAPS Says

(5 max):

Broadpoint's Pick Lagging S&P by:

EMC (NYSE: EMC)

Outperform

*****

25 points

MicroStrategy (Nasdaq: MSTR)

Outperform

***

15 points

Intel (Nasdaq: INTC)

Outperform

****

5 points

Nuance (Nasdaq: NUAN)

Outperform

*****

3 points

In fact, even when Broadpoint's right, it's not very right:

Company

Broadpoint Said:

CAPS Says

(5 max):

Broadpoint's Pick Beating S&P by:

Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL)

Outperform

****

6 points

Hewlett-Packard

(NYSE: HPQ)

Outperform

****

2 point

Put it all together, and this analyst has one of the worst records on CAPS. Broadpoint gets about 58% of its picks wrong, has racked up a negative score versus the market, and ranks somewhere in the bottom 20% of investors.

And that's the good news
According to our data provider, Briefing.com, Broadpoint has maintained a buy rating on salesforce since at least November 2007. The stock has outperformed the market by a good 28 points since then. But seeing as Broadpoint characterized Friday's rating as an "initiation" of coverage, we can only assume that at some point in the last five months, Broadpoint lost interest in salesforce, and terminated its coverage (but apparently never bothered to tell anyone it had done so).

So what?
For one thing, that means that while we're giving Broadpoint credit for 28 points of market outperformance on its November 2007 salesforce pick, the analyst probably doesn't deserve it. By its own admission, Broadpoint wasn't actively recommending the stock all this time, so its record should be even worse than it appears.

So what about salesforce.com?
Oh. Well, that's actually an interesting story, too. In past columns, I've chronicled the stock's transition through the following valuations: "Obscene." "Insane." "Crazy." "Overpriced." And "worth a flyer." Right now, the stock sells for 42 times trailing free cash flow, and most analysts believe it will grow its profits at about 47% per year over the next five years.

To me, the growth target seems a bit ambitious, but at this price, worth the aforementioned flyer. Unfortunately, I now find Broadpoint agreeing with me -- which tells me that in the worst case, I'm way off base. In the best case, I'm probably early in going bullish on the stock.

My advice: Wait for the stock to get just a wee bit cheaper before jumping in. Broadpoint is one analyst you just don't want to follow too closely.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. Intel is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Nuance is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems selection. You can find Rich on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No. 1,056 out of more than 86,000 players. The Fool has a disclosure policy.