"Just give me a whole lot of facts and figures and I'll make the decision," Farrell said.

Peter Sorrentino, senior portfolio manager at Huntington Asset Advisors in Cincinnati, said his firm has cut back on investments in banks because their financial statements have become too opaque to understand.

"It's just a very, very difficult group," said Sorrentino, whose company oversees $13.3 billion. "Return on equity, return on assets, net interest margin-the classic things that a bank analyst used to go to-they've almost become meaningless numbers."

Fleeting Fame

Before Whitney, analysts who soared to mainstream celebrity found it fleeting when the market turned against them.

Abby Joseph Cohen, senior investment strategist at Goldman Sachs, made her reputation with a bullish view of the stock market that proved true through the 1990s, before the Standard & Poor's 500 Index sank for three straight years beginning in 2000. Morgan Stanley's Mary Meeker, dubbed the "Queen of the Net" by Barron's magazine in 1998, receded from the spotlight after Internet stocks imploded.

Whitney made six accurate and 13 inaccurate stock forecasts through Sept. 30, based on annualized returns, including dividends, on each of her 19 recommendations, when compared with the performance of the S&P 500. She was right seven times and wrong 12 against the 81-company S&P 500 Financials Index.

Buy And Sell

Correct predictions are stocks rated "buy" that outperformed the indexes or a "sell" that underperformed. A rating of "hold" or "neutral" is right if the stock underperformed or matched the indexes, unless it had been upgraded from sell.

Whitney's first stock call as her own boss came on March 4, 2009, when she started Goldman Sachs at "neutral," a rating investors may interpret as a signal to sell. The stock surged 75 percent in about four months, providing an annualized return that beat the S&P by 281 percentage points.