Olin student team advances in investment competition

| Staff Reporter

The WUSIF team poses next to a competition poster for the MII University Investment Competition. The team, which advanced to the competition’s final round over spring break, consists of (L-R) junior Zack Whitacre, junior Alik Ulmasov, senior Dirk Doebler and sophomore Philip Thomas.Courtesy of Dirk Doebler

The WUSIF team poses next to a competition poster for the MII University Investment Competition. The team, which advanced to the competition’s final round over spring break, consists of (L-R) junior Zack Whitacre, junior Alik Ulmasov, senior Dirk Doebler and sophomore Philip Thomas.

Amidst strong competition, a group of business students advanced to the final round of the MII University Investment Conference.

The Washington University Student Investment Fund (WUSIF) shared its position in the final four with the University of Pennsylvania, George Washington University and Dartmouth College. The University of Pennsylvania won.

Team members say their success reflects the strength of the Olin Business program and they hope that it will increase people’s regard for the program.

“I think what it really means is that the Washington University in St. Louis business school is just as good as the other schools ranked higher than us. The education we are getting here is just as challenging and gives us tools that we can use to succeed in the real world,” said senior Dirk Doebler, co-president of WUSIF.

The four-person team competed against nine teams that were ranked higher and beat eight of them. There were 23 teams total.

The competition required each team to pitch a stock to a panel of judges, who were industry professionals. The teams were judged based upon the viability of their investment choices.

A stock pitch is when a group of people uses an analysis of the facts surrounding a company’s stocks in an effort to encourage investment in that stock.

The Washington University team pitched the James River Coal Company. The team included Doebler, juniors Alik Ulmasov and Zack Whitacre and sophomore Philip Thomas, who are all members of WUSIF.

Although this was the third annual competition, it was the first time that Washington University was invited to participate. The competition is invitation exclusive and limited to top business schools.

The Washington University team members spent roughly 16 hours choosing a company to research for the stock pitch. In the week prior to the competition, they spent eight to 10 hours a day researching the James River Coal Company.

Teams were permitted to choose any company with a daily trading value of 100,000 shares and a market capitalization of more than $500 million.

Washington University’s team chose to follow the James River Coal Company because it is in the process of acquiring another company. The team thought the stock was undervalued in light of this acquisition.

According to Whitacre, the business school makes use of real-world cases, so the team was able to apply their knowledge to a real-world investment scenario. Team members say that their real-world investment experience prepared them for the competition.

WUSIF is an active student group on campus. The fund has an allowance of $100,000 to invest in stocks that they vote on weekly, investing $3,000 per approved stock. The group will vote on whether or not to invest in the James River Coal Company this coming week.

Whitacre believes that the team’s success in the competition will impact the reputation of the Olin School of Business.

“There is sometimes a problem with name recognition of the business school with employers, and I think that we proved that the quality of education here is as good as it is at other top schools, if not better,” Whitacre said.

Olin was listed as the 14th best undergraduate business school by Bloomberg Business Week this year.

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