Specialty finance companies are being subjected to the equivalent of a head-to-toe physical as Wall Street scrambles to reevaluate these volatile lenders. High-profile writedowns in recent months have burned investors and analysts to the point where few will take a company's earnings projections or accounting assumptions at face value. Instead, analysts are revamping their ways of assessing companies' worth.

First up is CIBC Oppenheimer. Analysts Steven Eisman, Vincent Daniel, and Meredith Whitney released a lengthy report on Jan. 12 that reexamines home equity and subprime auto companies. The report has roiled lenders in the sector.

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