Not that I'm a big follower of analyst consensus but I just started wondering about it and looked up the definition.
"A "hold recommendation" is an analyst's opinion that can loosely be interpreted to mean that a stock should be kept by individuals who already own it, but should not be purchased by those who do not already own it. A hold recommendation is generally better than a sell recommendation but worse than a buy recommendation, and it usually means that the analyst believes the stock will remain fairly stable and keep pace with, but not surpass, the market. Holds are also referred to as "neutral" or "market perform" recommendations."
So for those not owning the stock, they're saying "don't bother buying it, we envisage mediocre returns so look elsewhere"
To those that do own it " well you're invested now, you might as well stick with it".
The only difference between someone who holds the stock and someone who doesnt is the transaction cost. So the only way this makes sense is if the analyst thinks that the returns will only be sufficient enough to cover the cost of your sell order if you hold.
That's hardly a margin of safety...
Have I missed something??
Edit: I guess there's also the 12month tax hurdle too but most recommendations are not to know the tax situation of the individual. Hence the disclaimer fine print at the end of any advice.