Even though securities analyst Martin Friedman is 900 miles away in Arlington, Va., he still has perhaps his industry's closest view of banks and savings and loans in South Florida.
Friedman is director of research at investment bank Friedman Billings Ramsey Group, which covers 300 banks and S&Ls around the United States.
Most institutions on its list have less than $5 billion in assets - including BankAtlantic of Fort Lauderdale, BankUnited of Coral Gables, Community Savings of North Palm Beach and Fidelity Bankshares of West Palm Beach.
Research on those companies is one of the major business lines for Friedman Billings Ramsey (NYSE: FBR). But, in recent months, it has broadened its reputation by joining the first wave of investment banks offering shares of initial public offerings to online investors.
That IPO activity is adding to the national profile of its officers, including Friedman, who already was known among investors for …