A group of Cal Poly Pomona finance students recently took the top prize in the first round of an international investment research competition and are set to compete in mid-March against the best teams from North and South America in the next round.
The students – team captain Michael Lovett, Omar Benitez, Jia-Lie Wu and, Matthew Yamamoto – are participating in the Research Challenge, which is sponsored by the CFA Institute. The competition attracts students from 774 universities in 54 countries.
Finance Professor Majed Muhtaseb, who is a chartered financial analyst and chartered alternative investment analyst, led the effort to form a Cal Poly Pomona team and served as a mentor along with Debra Bromberg, who worked as a Wall Street securities analyst for more than 20 years
“This is a great accomplishment and recognition for the team, the College of Business Administration as well as Cal Poly Pomona,” says Muhtaseb, who serves on the board of director for CFA Society of Orange County. “Mike, Matt, Omar and Jia won because they were blessed with boundless dedication. They earned the respect and recognition of two teams of independent judges and many others in the investment management profession.”
Competitors were tasked with conducting a valuation of Reed’s Inc., a top-selling maker of natural sodas well known for its Ginger Brew brand. To prepare for the competition, students had to research the company and its competitors, and decide whether investors should buy, sell or hold Reed’s stock. Then, the students defended their recommendation in a report and presented their findings to a panel of industry professionals.
The judges were impressed and awarded the Cal Poly Pomona first place over teams from Chapman University, Cal State Long Beach, Cal State Fullerton and Claremont McKenna College. Muhtaseb and the students will fly to Denver on March 18 to compete against students from the Americas. The CFA Institute will cover the travel expenses.
This is only the second time Cal Poly Pomona has entered the competition, and team members didn’t know what to expect, Lovett says. All they knew is they wanted to win and devoted 20-30 hours a week to the project with night meetings that would run as late as 1 a.m., Lovett adds.
“This has been one of my best learn-by-doing experiences,” Lovett says. “We got to meet the CEO [of Reed’s] and our industry advisor has spent many years on Wall Street. I’m interviewing for job and prospective employers are already impressed that I have this competition on my resume.”
If the students win the Denver competition, they will travel to Singapore to compete against the best teams from Europe, Middle East and Asia.