April 28, 2008

C.U. Wins Cross-College Investment Competition

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The adrenaline-pumping pace of the New York Stock Exchange only intensified as it traveled from Wall Street to Ithaca this weekend as student-teams competed in real life investment scenarios at Cornell’s first annual Collegiate Stock Pitch Competition. In just 10 short hours, three finalist teams composed entirely of undergraduates were asked to advise prospective stockholders to buy, sell or hold stock in the Tivo Company. After a day of furrowed brows and flailing arms, the three-member team from Cornell won the event.
The competition was organized by the Delta Sigma Pi professional fraternity, the Mutual Investment Club of Cornell and the Cornell Investment Club. Deutchse Bank sponsored the competition, which hosted teams from five universities on Friday.
The five teams who competed came from Cornell, the University of Chicago, Dartmouth University, Syracuse University and Penn State University.
In the first round, each team was asked to advise prospective stockholders to buy, sell or hold stock of the Tivo Company.
In the final round, the teams from Cornell and the University of Chicago went head-to-head and each gave presentations on a viable company of choice in the consumer retail sector.
Although the three other teams were eliminated , the five teams all had to research both parts of the competition in ten hours before the first round began.
According to Alex Casey ’09, a member of the Mutual Investment Club who helped organize the event, the event emulated similar competitions undertaken by the Johnson School of Management. “The organizers all thought that undergraduates are just as capable [as graduates],” he said.
The Cornell team consisted of Joshua Kim ’09, Porus Prakash ’10 and Samiuddin Sami ’10.
They all said that classroom experience played a key factor in helping them prepare.
“[In finance classes], you essentially learn how to value stock,” said Prakash, who noted a managerial finance course in the Johnson School of Management as particularly helpful.
“You really get tools from the classes,” added Kim, specifically citing HADM 429: Investment Analysis and Portfolio Management. “We weren’t just approaching it as buying a stock. We were approaching it as buying a company.”
Sami emphasized the role of teamwork in the competition.
“All three of us come from different backgrounds, and that really helped us in the competition,” he said. “It comes down to having the background … and working with the intricacies [of a given situation].”
The team members agreed that the 10-hour time constraint was a major obstacle in performing research that takes many financial professionals three days.
Sami said that the most important area in which the winning Cornell team came up short was creativity. “When we were researching the stock, we took the traditional route,” he said. “We had all the meat and potatoes, but the spice wasn’t there.”
Mervin Burton, a judge who works with the IBM pension fund, was impressed by the caliber of the competitors. “I was really impressed by the knowledge at the competition, especially by that of the freshmen and sophomores,” Burton said. “These [investment] clubs really do give people an advantage,” he added.