Having some reservations about the analysts, or the companies using them, may be somewhat valid, but look at the other side of the argument. Companies that sell mutual funds need an analyst to do investment research to help the fund manager pick the stocks. The fund manager doesn't always have time to find new stocks because he is busy managing the current portfolio.
As far as a company plumping up numbers to get consumers to buy certain stock, they have nothing to gain from it. When consumers lose money in stocks, they no longer have money to invest. When they are successful, they put more money into stocks. That's not to say fraudulent reports are never created, but if you are dealing with a known company, you probably don't have to worry about this happening.