Brent B. Erensel, a veteran banking analyst, has shifted his focus at UBS Securities to banks in Latin America.
"The time is ripe for a fresh look at these banks," he said Tuesday. In particular, stocks of Mexican banks have enjoyed a vigorous revival in the wake of that nation's currency crisis.
Mr. Erensel was, in effect, bumped from his position as UBS' top domestic bank analyst in March when the firm raided rival CS First Boston Corp. and hired Thomas H. Hanley, who is probably Wall Street's best-known follower of banks.
Mr. Hanley, who moved to UBS to rejoin several investment banking colleagues he had previously worked with at Salomon Brothers Inc., brought his own team of equity analysts from his old firm.
Mr. Erensel, a bank analyst for 15 years, seized the chance to cover banks and related companies in Latin America after the analyst specializing in that area, Christopher L. Wasden, left the firm in early April.
UBS, a unit of Union Bank of Switzerland, has a significant presence throughout Latin America.
Mr. Erensel is far from alone among U.S. analysts following Latin America's banks. Major Wall Street firms have increased their attention as the Latin nations have dropped trade barriers and privatized important segments of their economies, including banks.
The analyst will be covering the major Mexican banks - including Bancomer S.A., Grupo Financiero Serfin and Banco Nacional de Mexico, better known as Banamex.
"The banks of Mexico are about where the U.S. banks were in 1991, following the crisis here," said Mr. Erensel. "And as a student of banking history, I know that the best time to get interested is just after a crisis."
U.S. bank stocks staged a huge comeback in 1991 from record lows of the previous year after enduring their worst credit problems since the Great Depression.
"I bought tons of bank stocks in 1991. We recommended the stocks a great deal, then backed off in '93, became bullish again in late '94, and, I think, called the U.S. bank stock cycle very well," Mr. Erensel said.
The analyst is brushing up on his Spanish and leaving today for a business trip to South America, beginning in Peru.
Mr. Erensel, 38, previously worked as an analyst at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corp., Dean Witter Reynolds & Co., and Prudential Securities.
A native of St. Paul, he holds a master's degree in business administration from New York University and an undergraduate degree from Lawrence University in Wisconsin.