Denis Laplante often sees some of the same picks as other bank analysts -- just earlier and for different reasons.

Consider the case of MidLantic Corp. Long before the New Jersey bank became a favorite of analysts, Fox-Pitt Kelton's Mr. Laplante was recommending it. If you bought MidLantic when Mr. Laplante recommended it, you doubled your money.

Even today, while MidLantic is suddenly popular largely because of takeover speculation, he likes it because of the fundamentals that make it a good turn around story.

It was his foresight that earned him the designation as top analyst for banks in the Mid-Atlantic region. "Denis is very close to his banks," said an institutional investor who follows his recommendations. "He's not necessarily smarter than anyone else, he is just more focused on what counts."

Mr. Laplante joined Fox-Pitt Kelton in the Autumn of 1990 after spending five years covering Midwestern banks for Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. Before that, he was a federal bank examiner and earned an MBA at New York University.

Looking ahead to mid-1995, Mr. Laplante does not like what he sees for the banking sector. His forecast: Some of the big names are going to continue to get beat up because of margin pressure. The good news, as he sees it, is that dividend yields will provide some support to worried investors, and there will be occasional rallies.

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