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UNH Student-Managed Stock Portfolio Outperforms Market – Again

Every year, teams of students in the University of New Haven College of Business MBA program compete to devise investment strategies for a pool of funds, called the Charger Portfolio, invested in the stock market.

And in each of the last five years, since the fund was established by UNH alumnus Ralph DellaCamera Jr., the students have outperformed the market.

Members of "Platinum Sachs" (l to r) Matthew Favreau, Yana Beketayeva, Konstantinos Milas, Jose Rodriguez and Jia Chen standing in a UNH Maxcy Hall Class rooomThis past year, the student teams were given a special challenge: beat the performance of the portfolio submitted by Patrick Torre, the university’s associate vice president for finance, and he would contribute $2,000 to the fund. If they didn’t, Torre would contribute $1,000.

The students prevailed – and Torre has a depleted bank account to prove it. 

The objective of the fund is to provide the students with an opportunity to use the investment evaluation methods they learned in class and apply them using real money.  Since the fall of 2009, graduate students in the ”Equity Market Valuation and Analysis” course form competing teams and present investment proposals to an advisory board.

The board is composed of the dean of the College of Business, the associate vice president for finance and the college’s finance department faculty members.  The student teams do their research, select stocks for investment and present their competitive proposals to the board.  The board members evaluate the proposals and select the best proposal by vote.  The winning proposal is implemented. 

“The students were excited by Mr. Torre’s generous challenge,” said Demissew Diro Ejara, associate professor of finance and director of the Samuel S. Bergami Jr. Learning Center for Finance and Technology. “It was an added incentive to them to thoroughly investigate what the funds should be invested in.”

Torre, who served as a judge in the competition last year, said he handles the treasury duties for the Student Investment Class and executes all of their trades. 

“While processing last year’s equity purchases, there were a few stocks I thought were questionable,” he said. “I wanted to see if I could beat the students with a portfolio I created.”

Torre also wanted to help the students increase the portfolio and was hoping he could inspire other donors with his challenge.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for our students to experience a competitive process where the top portfolio gets to invest with $50,000 in real dollars,” he said. ”It would be great to get the fund over the $100,000 mark.”

The fund, which began at $25,000, has grown to $47,000 in four years – and with Torre’s contribution $49,000 – since it was begun with a contribution from DellaCamera, who has a marketing degree from UNH and received the UNH Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007. DellaCamera is a managing member and the chief investment officer for the New York-based hedge fund firm DellaCamera Capital Management, which manages multi-strategy domestic and offshore funds.

Torre said he realized he was losing the challenge when Apple, one of his stock selections, went to $400 a share from an entry point of $600. He had predicted the stock would get to $900 a share.

“The true end for me came when my one speculative play in a biotech company tanked after a big pharma buyout fell apart,” he said. “I’m very happy to help the students with the donation, but I’m not going to lie -- my competitive side has me very annoyed that I lost.”

The student winners called themselves the "Platinum Sachs".  Team members Yana Beketayeva, Jia Chen, Matthew Favreau, Konstantinos Milas and Jose Rodriguez recommended investment in large companies such as Johnson & Johnson, MacDonald’s, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Lockheed Martin, 3M, Costco, ExxonMobil, Pfizer, Realty Income Corp and Medtronic.

The team’s goal was to “Think Globally Invest Locally,” said Rodriguez of West Haven.  “Each one of the group members were from different parts of the world (Greece, China, Russia, America, and Puerto Rico) brought together by one university,” he said.  “So we wanted to key in on the very diverse mindsets each person has.”

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