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Seniors manage $4.1 million portfolio in finance class

Justin Tardiff | Friday, November 30, 2007

Each semester, about 25 seniors can take a class where they manage a $4.1 million portfolio.

The selective and rigorous class, Applied Investment Management, is offered through the Mendoza College of Business’s finance department. Several faculty members teach the class, including Frank Reilly.

“Each student [in the class] is an analyst and a portfolio manager, making decisions on which stocks will go into the [class] portfolio,” Reilly said.

Students pick a stock at the beginning of the summer and follow their choice through the market, analyzing the company in preparation for the fall. Midway through the semester, students pick a second stock and, eventually, vote as a group on which companies to include in the class investment plan.

“We have, basically, stocks almost in every category of all the same sectors as the S&P 500,” Reilly said. Students have invested in companies like Dell, Inc., Morgan Stanley, Whirlpool, PetSmart and The Cheesecake Factory.

The money earned by each section of the class is directly channeled back into the portfolio, Reilly said, increasing the resources for the next semester’s class.

In addition to tracking the stocks they pick in the market, students are guided by lectures and required to write several reports and read multiple books on the field of investment.

“These are topics that they’ve been exposed to in their coursework, but they’ve never been forced to sit down and do it themselves in detail,” Reilly said. “It’s something they’ve learned in the prior course, but they’ve never had to apply it very specifically and very rigorously.”

Since students make numerous corporate connections through the class, the number of applicants each semester has increased steadily.

“It was really helpful to draw on my investment experiences to answer tough interview questions,” senior Colleen McQuillan said.

Senior Lauren Godlasky agreed.

“Many of the students in [Advanced Investment Management] have formed friendships throughout the semester which I believe will be maintained after college,” Godlasky said.