Mount Union Investment Team Wins Stock Market Competition

April 22, 2010

A group of young investors put their interest in technology to work, achieving wild success in a stock portfolio competition that resulted in outstanding returns.


The Mount Union College Investment Team garnered returns of 61.4 percent, winning an annual competition among colleges and universities, sponsored by Oak Associates, an investment management firm of Akron.

"This is investing on a real time basis with real money at risk," said advisor Dr. Patricia Matthews, professor of business administration.

Oak Associates is owned by James and Vanita Oelschlager, who provided the initial funds for the investments. The schools with the highest returns are awarded more money to invest in their portfolio. This is the second time a Mount Union investment team has won this contest.

The other colleges and universities involved in the competition were: the University of Wisconsin, Ohio Wesleyan University, the College of Wooster, Indiana State University, Wittenberg University, Rutgers State University of New Jersey, Hiram College, the University of Akron, Denison University, Case Western Reserve University, Duquesne University, the University of Dayton, American University, Polytechnic University, Miami University, Northwestern University, University of Rio Grande and Wesleyan University.

So what is the secret of Mount Union's success?

"We just did what other smart investors did," said senior Steve Young of Pickerington. "We kept a core group of companies the team had invested in before, and accented with a few of our own good picks. We concentrated on technology, which was amazing in 2003."

"We were interested in new products, such as satellite radio," said Scot Gill, a senior from Canton and president of the Club. "We immersed ourselves in the stock market, looked at industry leaders and tried to determine who had the most potential for growth."

Gill had an internship with Oak Associates this past summer. In addition to outperforming all benchmarks, such as those set by NASDAQ, Gill reported that the student's portfolio even outperformed those of Oak Associates.

"I was teasing them about that," said Gill.

Sandra Noll of Oak Associates served as the investment team's coach. She defined her role as support for the team in answering any questions they might have, but she pointed out that neither she nor Matthews direct the students in making the investments.

"They picked a strategy and stuck with it," said Noll. "That is the key to investing. Mount Union learned that lesson, and that is why they won. It is a learning experience. When Jim and Vanita Oelschlager started this competition, they felt the students would learn more if they were dealing with real money. And if they lost it all, that was fine. It was meant to be a learning experience."

In addition to Gill and Young, the members of the team include seniors Mitchell Cunningham of Akron, Nicholas Inniger of Loveland, Josh Meiring of Alliance and Miriah Volino of East Liverpool and juniors Jennifer Bixler of Strasburg, Jonathan Caporale of Richfield, Michael Farmer of Akron and Kyle Prock of Strongsville.

Working on the investment team is a year-round commitment. The students apply for positions on the team, and, according to Matthews, this is one extracurricular activity they take very seriously. Part of what the students learn has nothing to do with the stock market, but are skills that are necessary to succeed in any workplace.

"They learn how to work as a team and how to make decisions. Most of all, they learn how to make those really tough decisions when they believe in something," said Matthews.

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