Cougar Fund Students Among Best in Regional T.I.P.S., CFA Competitions
Two teams of four graduate students from the Cougar Fund at the University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business were among the best in two recent regional competitions.
The students placed in the top three spots in both the Texas Investment Program Symposium (T.I.P.S.) Portfolio Competition and the CFA Institute Investment Research Challenge, held in February and hosted by Rice University
Cougar Fund students Maria Asher, Krishna Danda, Horacio Mendez and Russell Schulze competed in the stock analysis competition, while their classmates Anitha Ramaraj, Greg Spahr and Peter Vo made up the portfolio management team. Their competition included students from top schools in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.
“This experience is helpful, because it gets students involved and a hands-on experience with stocks,” Asher said. “It is like an internship; you are analyzing stocks and learning what you can’t from a class.”
The stock portion of the competition required students to research a publicly traded company, present their research to a panel of experts from top financial institutions and produce an Initiation of Coverage report, reviewed by a group of judges.
Asher and three other students analyzed Cal Dive International, a Houston-based gas field services firm, during their stock presentation. The skills learned from the Cougar Fund were a major asset to each team in their respective competitions, Asher said.
The portfolio management competition gave the student team an opportunity to put those skills to the test, Spahr said.
“The experience of being able to make a pitch to someone you’ve never met before is a great skill to learn,” he added. “People with 15-20 years of financial experience, looking at your presentation, the experience of making that pitch and getting feedback are very valuable.”
Spahr, who is planning a career in investment management, credits “hard work, long nights, and lots of espresso” to their achievement at the TIPS competition.
“It’s like riding a bike. It’s easier to explain how to do it, when you yourself have done it. It’s all about how to boil it down and effectively communicate the important key points,” he added.
Tom George, who teaches the securities analysis course that manages the Cougar Fund, was proud of his students’ accomplishment. “Both presentations were very solid and did Bauer and the Cougar Fund proud.”
The Cougar Fund is a private investment fund managed by graduate students that gives them the opportunity to gain experience in the management of an investment portfolio while providing a diversified investment vehicle for its investors. Out of approximately 6,000 university based student run investment funds in the United States, the Bauer College Cougar Fund is one of only four that doesn’t rely on university endowment funds.
By Amanda Sebesta