Stock Pitch Challenge proves a good investment

Panel of finance professionals judge annual business school event

Judges from some top companies evaluated students' stock pitches.

Pitching a company as a sound investment is a tough sell by itself. Now picture doing it in front of a packed house of peers, professors and, most intimidating of all, a panel of judges representing some of the most esteemed financial companies in the world.

The Global Markets Investment Club (GMIC) at Brandeis International Business School recently held its annual Stock Pitch Challenge, in which students gave presentations and fielded questions from a panel that included high-level executives and partners from the likes of Bank of America and Bain and Company.

This year’s pitched companies were 3M, Amazon, Costco and Hewlett-Packard. The process kicked off at the start of the fall when students split into 13 teams and undertook extensive equity research on their respective companies. A first-round panel of faculty judges then whittled the list down to four for the Stock Pitch Challenge.

Friday’s presentations prompted some animated discussion, with the expert panel grilling students on recent company news and asking about such topics as the relative benefits of dividend-discount models versus discounted cash-flow models.

“Presenting to prestigious industry professionals was incredibly nerve-racking,” said Miles Barnett MA ’13, whose group won the challenge with its pitch to sell Amazon stock. “It's good to have 'trial by fire' challenges like this because you come out the other end knowing that you survived and that that's as bad as it gets.”

The panel featured two alums – Deborah Shufrin ’93, who serves in Brandeis’ Office of Investment Management, and Adam Zirkin ’01, formerly of Harbinger Capital.

Club co-president Stefan Stoev MA ’12 described the event as a valuable opportunity for students to put their research skills into practice.

“It not only teaches students about the key elements of a professional stock pitch report, but it allows them to meet with the same people who will be potentially interviewing them for jobs in the investment management world,” he said.

Kimberly Myers MA ’13 worked several 12-hour sessions in the business school’s Bloomberg Lab to prepare for her H-P pitch.

“I feel humbled and privileged to have been a part of it,” she said. “It definitely set the tone for my grad school experience – after this, presentations in class will be a piece of cake.”

One of GMIC’s other key responsibilities as a club is a fund that it independently manages. Invested primarily in the stock markets of developed and developing countries, the portfolio has outperformed the S&P 500 index by more than 6 percent since last year, with a current valuation of more than $68,000. Few other business schools’ investment clubs manage funds with the same level of autonomy as GMIC, with club members making every single decision and participating not through a credited class but on their own free time.

GMIC also hosts alumni networking nights, mock interviews, and “Day on the Job” company site visits. Competition for the 30 spots on the October trip to Fidelity Investments was so fierce that the co-presidents opted to require that club members submit stock pitches to apply.

Business school Dean Bruce Magid, the Martin and Ahuva Gross Chair in Financial Markets and Institutions, opened the proceedings on Friday by applauding the group’s growth.

“Your achievements with the investment fund and events like this are impressive and serve as great learning opportunities for students interested in careers in investment,” he said. “Recruiters know and ask about GMIC, and that shows the success and influence you have had with the club.”

Categories: Business

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