Acadiana Business

Lafayette banks shine among nation's top 3,000 stocks

by Heather Miller

The only two Louisiana banks included in this year's Russell 3000 company performance index are MidSouth and Iberia, both of which are headquartered in Lafayette.

The who's hot, who's not list of the country's top 3,000 stocks includes a tiny pocket of Cajun flair again this year with the parent companies of Iberia and MidSouth banks both making the cut.

The Russell 3000 index, used by investors worldwide as a go-to for annual stock performance, included only two Louisiana banks this year, both of which are headquartered in Lafayette. MidSouth has been named on the list as a top 3,000 stock for the past three years; IberiaBank has made the list for at least the past two consecutive years.

This year, the financial services firm removed 104 companies from its list, including Lafayette's Home Bank, to make room for 186 companies that were added to the 2011 index, according to Russell's website:

Russell indexes are widely used by investment managers and institutional investors for index funds and as benchmarks for both passive and active investment strategies. An industry-leading $3.9 trillion in institutional assets currently are benchmarked to them. These investment tools originated from Russell's multi-manager investment business in the early 1980s when the company saw the need for a more objective, market-driven set of benchmarks in order to evaluate outside investment managers.

MidSouth President and CEO Rusty Cloutier says in a press release that a nod on the Russell 3000 list "validates" the bank's presence in the market.

"It is especially gratifying that we are in such elite company in the state, to receive this vote of confidence," Cloutier says.

Health care, financial services and technology firms comprised the bulk of the Russell index, according to a Seattle business journal, and though the list represents a $16.7 trillion market cap, financial institutions aren't playing an influential role in the stock market's stunning growth over the last year:

Though banks and others in the financial industry are starting to make money again, their stock prices are still in the doldrums.

Some experts and industry watchers have speculated that uncertainty surrounding new banking regulations and the hangover from the massive bailouts of banks are part of the problem.

Read more here.