Stern Brothers & Co. Wednesday announced the hiring of noted municipal analyst Brian Tournier, who will join the firm as a vice president and director of credit analysis.
Tournier will provide credit support to the firm's investment banking and trading business. He joins Stern Brothers from A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc. where he was a municipal analyst for the last 15 years, the last four as director of the municipal research group.
"[Stern Brothers] has a great story," Tournier said. "It was an opportunity to get on board with the company that is growing in the right direction and doing some really interesting business."
At A.G. Edwards, Tournier focused on high yield bonds and project finance, including tobacco deals and, before that, utility deregulation. At Stern Brothers he will help the firm evaluate credits in health care, housing and real estate, industrial development, and alternative energy, among others.
"The business focus here matches up nicely with what I have been doing the last few years," Tournier said. "The ability to work with a highly skilled team on innovative solutions, innovative structures, and highly complex transactions had a tremendous amount of appeal."
Specifically, Stern Brothers is an expert in the short end of the curve, which puts the firm in a good strategic position as the auction-rate market continues to suffer and issuers look to convert to variable rate demand bonds, Tournier said. He said he looks forward to working with these kinds of deals.
"[Variable-rate demand notes] are very much a speciality for this company and it is an area that I haven't had as much experience in," Tournier said. "The ability to come into a shop that does it as well as anyone and expand my capabilities along with theirs was extremely attractive."
His departure from A.G Edwards, which recently merged with Wachovia Bank NA, leaves the conglomerate without a municipal analyst of his stature. "He's a good man and he's one of the best," said a former colleague at A.G Edwards. "He'll be sorely missed."
Tournier was frequently named as an All-Star Municipal Analyst by Smith's Research and Gradings, most recently as a special revenue bond analyst.
"He rose to prominence in publishing reports on revenue bonds and had a growing following at A.G. Edwards," said Terry Smith, chief executive officer at Smith's. "There is tremendous value that he can bring to a smaller shop."
Tournier is the ninth hire for Stern Brothers over the past year. And while he is the firm's sole credit analyst, the firm expects to hire additional personnel.
"We do anticipate a credit team in place at some point down the road," Tournier said.
Stern Brothers is a broker-dealer and financial adviser with about 30 bankers and traders with offices in St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, and Tampa. The firm had revenues of between $7.5 million and $10 million in 2007, a 10% growth over the year before, Stern Brothers spokeswoman Kim Brandt said.
In 2007, Stern was the 75th-ranked senior manager, with 25 deals worth $259.9 million, according to Thomson Financial. The firm was the 59th-ranked financial adviser, with 14 issues worth $698.8 million, according to Thomson.