There are many good reasons for researching investment opportunities in a certain geographic area. Today, I'm leaping out of the standard format to present the business version of Super Bowl XLI: Chicago vs. Indianapolis!

It's the Windy City vs. the Crossroads of America; Miles Davis and Harrison Ford vs. David Letterman and Kurt Vonnegut; and of course, two of the richest sports cultures in America in direct head-to-head battle.

If you happen to live in Lincoln Park or Broad Ripple Village, you already have a few advantages when it comes to evaluating the local markets, such as access to local news sources and the word on the street, and a high probability of being a customer or employee of these companies. And if you're not a local resident, you might still want to know whether the business talent matches the sporting success -- a hot area could be chock-full of undiscovered superstars on their way to greatness.

Without further ado, here are the largest companies headquartered in Chicago:


Market Cap (billions)

CAPS Rating

Bull Ratio

Boeing (NYSE:BA)








Chicago Mercantile Exchange (NYSE:CME)




And here are the largest companies with headquarters in Indianapolis:

Indianapolis Companies

Market Cap (billions)

CAPS Rating

Bull Ratio

Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY)




WellPoint (NYSE:WLP)




Simon Property Group




According to Capital IQ, the 62 publicly traded companies in Chicago currently average 32.9% one year's earnings growth, and 16.1% annually over the last three years. Indy's 22 entrants have a more aggressive current growth rate of 59.8% but lag in the long run with a 14.3% earnings CAGR. Defense versus offense -- sounds like the Bears and the Colts to me.

I'd give Chicago the coaching edge with five active Motley Fool newsletter picks, compared to just one in Indy. That's Eli Lilly (not Peyton's brother), an Income Investor pick. The CAPS fan base leans toward Illinois as well, with 18 five-star stocks against five in Indiana. That's an impressive 29% versus 23% in the die-hard fan department.

So Chicago scores on all counts except average short-term performance, where Indy's fireworks are paying off. In both cities, the five-star stocks are found deep in the bench, if the starters have the biggest market caps. That's also where all of Chicago's newsletter picks show up, including such stalwarts as Income Investor selection William Wrigley (NYSE:WWY) and naughty Rule Breaker Playboy Enterprises (NYSE:PLA).

In Chicago, everybody loves Novamed (NASDAQ:NOVA): 100% of all 42 CAPS players rating the stock give it a thumbs up. KatWoman50 explains why:

"Ambulatory surgery is the future as hospital rooms get more expensive and technology improves with less invasive surgical techniques."

Indy asnwers with Republic Airways, where all 38 raters agree on a bullish position. MaverickAtWork wants to tell us more:

"Reading some of the press on Republic Airways Holdings and their planned expansion over the next few years (in conjunction/partnership with existing major airlines); I've decided to hook onto these guys to keep my antennae tuned in..."

The Foolish scorecard
Just like the Super Bowl itself, this is a hard-fought battle with strengths on both sides. Chicago has the longer business tradition, its own financial markets in the Mercantile Exchange, and the largest population in the Midwest with all the recruiting advantages that position holds. Indy is an up-and-comer, with a generous helping of biosciences expertise, a solid 2 million people in the metropolitan area, and an ideal location for a shipping and travel hub. The football game may go in the other direction, but I think that Chicago wins the business match-up by a touchdown, mostly thanks to its larger scale.

Do you agree? Disagree? Feel free to weigh in on the Second City and Circle City markets -- or on any stocks at all, really -- by joining Motley Fool CAPS and blasting away with your ratings and commentary pitches. And if Wrigleyville and Massachusetts Avenue aren't your 'hoods, maybe we'll come 'round where you live next time.

Further Foolishness:

Eli Lilly and William Wrigley are two of our Income Investor recommendations, and Playboy is a Rule Breaker in the official sense, too. Find out more with a handful of free 30-day trial passes.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here, and Rex Grossman's Gator roots are forcing him to root for the Colts. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like. Foolish disclosure is always red-hot.