Nine Barney School of Business undergraduate and MBA students recently completed the two-semester "Applied Financial Analysis and Investments" course. Their job: actively manage two funds aligned with the Barney School’s mission to develop leaders and decision-makers who are globally aware and socially responsible. From September 2013 through April 2014 they made buy, sell, and hold decisions for stocks in the Global and the Green funds. Their goal was to maximize long-term fund returns.
Started in 2008 with $250,000 in seed funding from the University of Hartford endowment, the course has been co-taught by finance veterans and adjunct faculty members Jim Hogan '82, '05 and Steve Mulready '77. Mulready joins the class each week via teleconference from his office in New York City. Hogan and Mulready guide students through the research, analysis, trading, and portfolio management processes. Students pitch their stock recommendations to the class and purchases are made when 70% of the class votes in the affirmative.
How did the students do this year? On fund performance, exceptionally well. Across both funds the return was 13.8% compared to the S&P 500 benchmark of 9% during the same time period. Some of the biggest gains came from Global Fund equity positions in Archer Daniels Midland, Qualcomm, and Valero and in the Green Fund from Apple, NextEra Energy, and 3M, companies with leading sustainability practices in their respective industries.
Another measure of success is the experience students gained that will help their organizations make fact-based investment decisions. “Our goal for the course,” according to Hogan, “is to provide a boardroom setting where students compete for capital to invest in the Global or Green portfolio. It is a very fulfilling experience to see the growth in student capabilities over the two semesters as well as the investment returns that were achieved.”
Ruslana Frenkel, a Barney economics and finance major who will begin working at Stanley Black & Decker after graduation this month, shared her perspective on student takeaways from the course. “This class has expanded my horizons on portfolio management and investments analysis,” commented Frenkel. “I have developed a broader understanding of the financial markets as well as various investment analytic tools and strategies. Our professors, money management experts, encouraged us to develop investment tactics and manage the funds in a boardroom-like setting.“