A star analyst with buttoned-down Atlanta asset manager Trusco Capital quietly left the firm Monday, sparking storms of speculation in institutional circles about why he did.

Christian Koch, who once likened equity research to a "Greek tragedy" in which analysts sought out a stock's fatal flaw, was dismissed Monday by Trusco, a division of

SunTrust

(STI) - Get Report

, where he had been managing director and senior equity analyst.

The company declined to explain Koch's departure, confirming only that he had stopped working at Trusco Monday. A spokesman said it was company policy not to comment on personnel matters.

Koch, reached at his Atlanta home by telephone, said he was given the option of resigning when it was discovered he was looking for a job elsewhere.

In November, Koch was named to

Institutional Investor's

prestigious "best of the buyside" team for his work in the semiconductor and software sectors. Koch joined Trusco as a technology analyst in August 1999.

Several Wall Street sources speaking on condition of anonymity said Koch -- which is pronounced "coach" -- was known to have tested the limits of self-promotion in campaigning for the

Institutional Investor

ranking, even "horsetrading" for votes among peers. One said it might have played a role in the dismissal, particularly at a conservative money manager like Trusco.

In its November 2002 issue,

Institutional Investor

said it composed the ranking of top buy-side analysts by surveying all the Wall Street analysts who received votes in its All-America Research Team. The magazine said nearly 600 sell-side analysts responded.

Koch said he never asked other analysts to vote for him in the

Institutional Investor

survey and claimed he was asked to resign solely because supervisors discovered he was seeking another job.

Koch said he is interested in becoming a money manager, but hasn't found employment elsewhere.

"It's a blessing in disguise," said Koch, 34. "I maxed out my opportunity at Trusco."

Industry sources described Koch as a good stock analyst whose abrasive style won him few friends among colleagues or competitors. After the

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Institutional Investor

rankings came out last year, he sent an email to a number of people in which he called himself "America's No. 1 technology analyst."

Koch has been quoted often in business publications commenting on technology stocks. He also has made frequent appearances on

CNBC

and was briefly a columnist on

TheStreet.com's

subscription sister site,

RealMoney.com

. Koch wrote one column in June on

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

.

In a profile of analysts named to the

Institutional Investor

list, Koch likened his stock-picking philosophy to classical dramatics.

"The hero of a Greek tragedy displays a fatal flaw that ultimately leads to his demise,"

Institutional Investor

quoted him as saying. "I try to identify the fatal flaw that could cause investors to back out of a stock."

Before joining Trusco, Koch worked for

Fifth Third Bancorp

(FITB) - Get Report

from 1997 to 1999, and Lindner Funds before that.