Students Win Finance Competition

For some, third time’s the charm. But for a three-student Harvard team, once was all they needed to win the second annual Undergraduate Stock Pitch Competition.

Despite facing strong competition from five other university teams, P. Connor Haley ’14, Jared D. Sleeper ’14, and Linxi Wu ’14 won the finance contest, which took place at Cornell University last Monday and Tuesday. In the competition, teams two stocks, determining whether they would buy or sell the equity.

“It felt great to win...because we put in a lot of work together as a team,” said Haley, who served as team captain. Teams were given one week to prepare pitches for two stocks, one chosen for each team and one chosen by each team.

Six teams gave ten-minute presentations on the first stock and had five minutes to answer questions from the judges. Each of the three finalist teams delivered another ten-minute presentation, this time on the stock of their choosing.

The Harvard students were assigned Chipotle and chose DeVry as their second stock. Sleeper said the team members kicked into high gear when the competition administrators released the names of the stocks.

“It’s hard to put an hour number on it,” said Sleeper, who serves as president of operations for the Harvard Financial Analysts Club. “But we spent probably like 60 to 70 hours the week before the pitch, preparing the presentations, presenting them, and doing all the research.”

This year was the first time the Harvard team competed in the event. Team members said that, as a result, they did not know how they would rank. They also added that because Harvard presented last, the team members did not see other schools give their presentations, could not judge the strength of the other teams.

Last year's winner, the University of Pennsylvania, was seen as Harvard's strongest competitor. Sleeper noted that while Harvard students learn theoretical economics, students at Wharton start with balance sheets from day one.

“The vast majority of our stuff is self-taught, where as Wharton has been taking courses on valuation and accounting,” Sleeper said. “The most difficult challenge is dealing with that innate advantage that they have in terms of their education.”

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