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UM-Tupelo Students Place Nationally in Bloomberg Stock Trading Challenge

Photo: Finance students at the University of Mississippi-Tupelo campus recently placed in the top 10 among 265 teams from colleges around the country during the Bloomberg Business Stock Trading Challenge. The winning team included: (L to R) Daniel Patterson of Pontotoc, Zack Marcinek of Corinth, Dr. Ivonne Liebenberg (advisor), Candy McDonald of Guntown and Heather Couture of Mooreville. (Not pictured is Katie Watson of Shannon.)

OXFORD, Miss.­­­ — Managerial finance students on the University of Mississippi-Tupelo campus have been busy this spring managing a 10 million dollar investment for the Bloomberg Business Corporation.

Although the money existed only in theory, the students who participated in the 2017 Bloomberg Trading Challenge now have a real-world knowledge of financial trading principles that helped them bridge classroom theory with actual stock marketing trading.

“I had never participated in anything like this before,” UM-Tupelo Senior Zack Marcinek of Corinth said. “I enjoyed it so much that I’ve switched my career goals a bit from wanting to be a financial advisor specifically for individuals to now being more interested in becoming a corporate financial analyst for a larger corporation.

UM Instructional Assistant Professor of Finance Ivonne Liebenberg said that when representatives from the Bloomberg Business Corporation reached out to her in late fall 2016 about participating in their new collegiate stock market competition, she jumped at the opportunity for her students to garner investing experience.

“I knew this would be an exciting, interactive way for students to apply what they were learning in class,” she said.  “They had the opportunity to learn more about how the stock market works, handling orders, learning about transaction costs, and analyzing the outcomes.”

The UM-Tupelo students named their trading team “I.Liebenberg & Company” in honor of their instructor.  Team members included Heather Couture of Mooreville, Zack Marcinek of Corinth, Candy McDonald of Guntown, Daniel Patterson of Pontotoc and Katie Watson of Shannon.

“We started out letting the students pitch their stock ideas,” Liebenberg said. “They had to give me a good reason to add their stock pick to the portfolio. Once we made our decisions the students began analyzing and following their investments.”

In order to diversify their portfolio each student focused on different stock areas in order to have a balanced investment.  Marcinek said he focused on technology stocks and ultimately recommended Netflix and Adobe Connect.

“Both companies are tried and true,” Marcinek said. “Most of my friends use Netflix. It seems to be cannibalizing regular television. The University uses Adobe Connect in several of my classes. I think its only going to progress.”

Both of his stock picks recorded gains during the competition.

The trading challenge introduced students to Bloomberg’s Stock Terminal, which is used to define market assumptions, develop a return-generating strategy, and execute trades over a closed network.

“It was interesting seeing all of the tools that were part of the trading terminal and how they helped you assess your trades,” Marcinek said. “It wasn’t too complicated and coached us through.”

The competition continued for eight weeks with students having the opportunity to buy and sell stocks throughout that timeframe. The teams that generated the highest return on investment and presented the best investment methodology at the end of the Challenge were named among the top 10 finalists.

“We decided to go invest Warren Buffett style, that is, to buy and hold,” said Marcinek. “We thought by diversifying well and staying patient our strategy would pay off.”

Liebenberg said that the students had to keep a close eye on their stocks, but she felt that trading too much might not garner the greatest return in the short eight-week timeframe of the competition.

In mid-April, Bloomberg representatives informed Liebenberg that the team was came in ninth place among the 265 competing teams from 81 colleges around the country.

“I’m very proud of the students’ work, especially since this was their first time competing,” Liebenberg said. “I think they learned a great deal and came up with solid strategies to guide their trading.”