Iberia abandons shipping

A boutique US investment bank appears to have pulled the plug on a campaign to expand its presence in the shipping industry.       

Iberia Bank, which is based in New Orleans, launched Iberia Capital in 2010.

          Iberia Bank, which is based in New Orleans, launched Iberia Capital in 2010.       

In an alert issued by analyst David Beard Iberia Capital Partners said it was dropping research coverage of the shipping sector due to a “reallocation of resources” but failed to elaborate further.

Prior to the announcement the firm followed both tanker and bulker stocks. The list included the likes of Frontline, Nordic American Tankers, Knightsbridge and Diana Shipping, among others.

It’s unclear if the company will continue to cover US tug and barge giant Kirby Corp or offshore operators like Tidewater but observers note these names are a lot more liquid than most tanker and bulker stocks, which is why they think coverage will continue.

While shipping companies have been much more active in the capital markets as of late and many believe they will continue to do so in the near-term Iberia is not the first boutique US investment bank to turn its back on the segment.

Cowen & Company suspended coverage of a number of New York and Nasdaq-quoted owners a few weeks back but pledged to continue following drilling contractors and master-limited partnerships, a category that includes several operators of LNG carriers.

Iberia first arrived on the scene in late 2011. At the time, Beard said the bank intended on reaching 100 quoted companies “under coverage”  under a broader effort to position the group as one of the premier energy-focused sell-side brokerages in the market.

Iberia Capital is controlled by Nasdaq-quoted parent Iberia Bank, which has been in the game for more than a century and currently oversees a network of 171 branches that are spread across the southern US from its headquarters in New Orleans, Louisiana.