Westlake Securities announced it has added a research division to its services. Established in 2003, Westlake Securities has grown from solely investment banking to include capital markets trading services and financial advisory specializing in company valuations and fairness opinions.

Managing director Randy Finch says adding a research offering is a natural extension of the company’s activities. “Our new research division will complement our capital markets division by providing our institutional clients with unique insights through original research that does not replicate what is already in the marketplace.”

Westlake’s research will be initially focused on the energy and industrial sectors, where the company does the majority of its transactions.

The research team is led by Joel Luton, a respected researcher with experience on both the buy-side and sell-side. Luton’s 30-year career includes overseeing a $6 billion investment-grade industrial corporate portfolio.

“Joel’s approach to research is the key to the value this new service will provide,” Finch says. “He focuses on underfollowed and complex situations to find investment opportunities that are likely to outperform the market, in both short and long situations.”

Luton’s experience in investment research includes high-yield, investment-grade, and equity analysis. His previous affiliates have included American General (now a part of AIG), Texas Commerce Bank (now JP Morgan Chase), Rauscher Pierce Refsnes, Inc. (now RBC Dain Raucher, Inc.) and APS Financial.

As APS Financial’s director of Research for 14 years, Luton built a seasoned research team and developed a quality and in-depth research product that was instrumental in establishing business with a wide variety of institutional accounts. Luton was a guest lecturer on the high yield/distressed markets for finance classes at The University of Texas at Austin, the institution where he earned his MBA and BBA.

Vice president of Research is Chris McDougall, who has a strong investment and operational background and will be primarily covering the exploration and production sector. Prior to joining Westlake, he was Senior Analyst and Partner at Treaty Oak Capital Management, a long/short energy hedge fund in Austin, Texas with over $700 million under management at its peak.

Prior to Treaty Oak, McDougall held positions of increasing responsibility at The Dow Chemical Company including Program Manager in Dow Ventures, where he evaluated multiple alternative energy technologies and led a minority equity investment in an alternative energy company. His Bachelor Degree in Chemical Engineering is from Georgia Institute of Technology and his Masters of Business Administration is from University of Texas at Austin. McDougall is a Chartered Financial Analyst.

Luton said the Westlake team would take a bottom-up, deep dive approach toward specific investment opportunities, and provide value-oriented recommendations that considered both the upside potential as well as downside risk of potential investments. “Our risk/return research effort includes a rigorous analysis of a company’s fundamentals through assessment of industry dynamics, corporate and capital structure, leverage, liquidity, cash flows and cash needs,” Luton said. “We also assess the strength of the company’s management and competitive position, giving consideration to potential catalysts for price movements in the company’s various securities.”