Kuwait Financial Centre 'Markaz' said in its recent report, titled 'GCC Research Statistics' that equity markets witnessed almost the same level of attention in the first half of 2012, compared to the previous half. A total of 19 brokers published 218 research notes on 89 companies during the period, compared to 208 research notes published in the second half of 2011.The report noted that in the first half of 2012, 13 per cent of all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) companies received research coverage, representing 69 per cent of the total market cap. Saudi Arabia, which continued to attract the most attention, accounted for 44 per cent of research notes, followed by the UAE with 18 per cent.According to Markaz's report UAE, after Bahrain, was the most preferred equity market in the first half of 2012, with 80 per cent of the reports receiving 'Buy' ratings. On the flip side, Kuwait had a majority of 'Hold' calls, at 47 per cent.In terms of top researched stocks, Qatar Telecom and Almarai topped the list with nine research notes followed by Savola Group Company and Eithad Etisalat. The latter and Riyad Bank feature among stocks with the highest upside potential going forward, as per broker recommendations.As for market capitalisation coverage, Qatar has the highest coverage in the first half of 2012 (86 per cent) followed by Saudi Arabia and Oman with 79 per cent and 73 per cent market cap coverage, respectively. On a quarterly basis also, Qatar leads in terms of market cap coverage with 84 per cent in the first and second quarters.Markaz report indicates that Qatar was the most researched country in terms of percentage of companies covered to total companies listed in the country. About 27 per cent of all listed companies in Qatar, accounting for 86 per cent of the local market capitalisation, received coverage in the first half of 2012.Banking continues to be the most researched sector with 65 notes; 52 of these 65 were 'Buy' calls, 12 were 'Hold' calls, while the remaining were 'Sell'. After banking, telecommunications sector was the most researched sector, with 32 'Buy' recommendations and two 'Sell' calls. The Industrial Services sector received only 3 'Sell' recommendations.The top five 'Buy' stocks included two from Oman, two from Saudi Arabia and one from Qatar.Raysut Cement Company gained 80.8 per cent since the first recommendation and emerged as the best 'Buy' pick. Oman Cement emerged as the second best 'Buy' stock with 40 per cent gain since the first recommendation. The worst 'Buy' call was on Banque Saudi Fransi, which lost 20.71 per cent since the call. This was followed by Saudi British Bank, which lost -20.54 per cent since the first recommendation.