Category: APMP

APMP Team Repeats Win in New York City

Cory Sullivan participating in Nasdaq closing
Cory Sullivan participating in Nasdaq closing

March 31, 2015 – It’s been said the only thing more difficult than winning a championship, is repeating. That is exactly what an Applied Portfolio Management Program team from Michigan Technological University has done.

For the second year in a row, the School of Business and Economics’ APMP team won the global investment competition at the Global Asset Management Education (GAME) Forum V, hosted by Quinnipiac University in New York City. The event, held March 19-21, attracted more than 1,200 students from 140 colleges in 40 countries and 39 states.

While in New York, the team participated in the NASDAQ Stock Exchange closing, attended presentations by some of the biggest names in the world of finance and visited with  APMP alums.

Keynote speakers included: Guy Adami, chief market strategist for Private Advisory Group and contributor to CNBC’s Fast Money; Joseph Terranova, chief market strategist for Virtus Investment partners and another “Fast Money” contributor; David M. Darst, former managing director and chief investment strategist for Morgan Stanley Weather Management; Abby Joseph Cohen senior investment strategist and president of the Global Markets Institute at Goldman Sachs; and Tom Keene, editor-at-large at Bloomberg News.

Tech Team

The APMP sent three students to the competition, Cory Sullivan, who participated in the NASDAQ closing ceremony, Heath Johnson and Derek Menard.

The results of the team’s investments were impressive according to Dean Johnson who is the James and Dolores Tretheway Professor in the School of Business and Economics and the APMP’s founding director. He says what sets the competition apart is the fact the students are investing real money–a lot of real money.

“The team manages $1 million through the Michigan Tech Fund,” Johnson explains. “These funds were explicitly donated to be managed by the students.”

He says the APMP team has done well with the fund’s money. Johnson says the team practices the concept of Risk Adjusted Returns, In which an investment’s return is measured by how much risk is involved in producing that return. Even more impressive is the fact the students themselves make all investment decisions. “They have complete control,” Johnson says. “They are hired by the APMP Advisory Board, but the students make each and every decision.

Heath Johnson, the only returning member from last year’s winning  team, says while there was a sense of pressure to repeat, the experience of having done it before was beneficial.

“After experiencing the competition last year I knew that we had to be mindful not only or our returns, but also the risk subjected to our portfolio.” Heath Johnson says.

“Our team really wanted to repeat last year’s impressive performance. Winning two years in a row out of 141 schools was incredibly exciting. We were able to outperform the market through very consistent returns while minimizing risk.”

NASDAQ Closing

Cory Sullivan says the overall experience was impressive on several levels. “From participating in the NASDAQ closing and having my picture appear in Times Square, to receiving advice from the biggest names in the finance industry, I realize the great opportunities APMP provides students,”

Indeed, the students hardly have time to enjoy the repeat victory. Heath Johnson, president of the SBE’s Finance Club and other members of the club traveled to the Chicago the following weekend for their annual trip to visit investment firms. Other members of the APMP traveled to Detroit Thursday and Friday to compete in the ENGAGE Investment Education Symposium and competition, hosted by Wayne State University.

Sullivan says the New York trip is just one of many experiences available to the team.  “We interact with great guest speakers on campus and via video conferencing, but we also get the opportunity to travel to both Chicago and Detroit to interact with investment professionals. “

Professor Johnson echoed that sentiment. “APMP students are gaining the experiences and education to be successful in the finance industry. Indeed, their success is already evident in their investment results.”

This article was written by Mark Wilcox and originally published on Michigan Tech News.

LSGI Stock Competition

Joe Dancy (’76), manager of the LSGI Venture Fund, graciously funded the first LSGI Stock Competition at Michigan Tech’s School of Business and Economics (SBE).  Dancy a long-time supporter of Michigan Tech, was recently selected as a member of the SBE Dean’s Advisory Council.  He believes a finance education is important to any student’s future, regardless of his/her major.

Accordingly, Dancy donated $1,000 in prize money for a portfolio competition held in the Investment Analysis (FIN 4000) course taught by Dr. Dean Johnson.  The course provides an overview of financial products, while discussing the operations of the stock market and bond market.  It also delves into portfolio theory, as well as basic stock and bond valuation techniques.  Students in this class are encouraged to participate in national stock contests.

Most stock contests select winners based solely on the portfolio with the highest return.  This approach unfortunately encourages risk-seeking behavior, which has the potential to send the wrong message to students.  Instead, Johnson was able to tie the stock competition to the instruction in his Investment Analysis course.   At the beginning of the term, students constructed their portfolios from stocks across all sectors in the economy.  After learning the risk-return concept and the mean-variance framework, each student calculated the risk-return measures for their portfolio just like a real world fund.  These risk-return measures include the portfolio’s return, standard deviation, Sharpe Ratio, Treynor Measure, Alpha, Beta, R-Squared, M-Squared, T-Squared and Information Ratio. “The competition was not only a significant experience,” remarked student Caihang Li, “but also encouraged me to better myself.”

In the end, three students, Li, Spenser Eller, and Heath Johnson, came out on top based on their portfolio’s risk-adjusted returns.  For example, Eller was able to turn a hypothetical $100,000 into $108,834 in eleven weeks versus $101,435 for an investment in the S&P 500 Index.  More importantly, his portfolio’s Sharpe Ratio was five times higher than the S&P 500’s Sharpe Ratio!  Eller expressed immense gratitude for Dancy’s contribution that made this possible, stating “The money will be put to good use, and the experience that I have gained will be invaluable.”

The SBE, Johnson and the FIN 4000 students would like to thank Mr. Dancy and the LSGI Fund for their continued support in our students’ financial education.

APMP Scores Big… Twice!

The Applied Portfolio Management Program is one of the most unique student organizations on campus.  Every year, two teams each comprised of six students are selected to create stock market portfolios using $1.3 million of real money.  These students have the opportunity to use one of two Bloomberg Terminals in the Upper Peninsula, right in their very own LSGI Trading Lab.

Senior APMP team member, Mason McGrew, utilizes the Bloomberg Terminal in the School of Business and Economics

APMP has always been considered successful, but 2013 was a banner year for the team.  Director Dean Johnson described a return of 29.66%, with a standard deviation (aka risk) of around 1.7%.  Senior Brett Ludwig reminisced about the teams’ investments in 2013, stating, “It was really cool to watch the stocks go up, and tough at times not to sell others.”  With a portfolio that grew in one year from $397,000 to $515,000, the Gold Team recently participated in two global investment competitions.  It may come as no surprise that they walked away with not one, but two victories.

After APMP member Heath Johnson appeared on the Market Site display in Times Square and closed the NASDAQ on Wednesday, March 19, it was announced that the team had won the 2014 Quinnipiac G.A.M.E. IV Forum investment competition in the value category.  This achievement was particularly impressive considering that there were over 1,000 participants from 118 colleges and universities!

Most recently at the 14th Annual Redefining Investment Strategy Education (RISE) competition on March 28 at the University of Dayton in Ohio, team members Ludwig, Nathan Sturos, and Judy Isaacson were on hand to snag the first place title of Gold Portfolio in the Value Investment Style category.

Competing at RISE in Dayton was the icing on the cake after APMP’s successful year.  Their dedication won them the ultimate Gold Portfolio, and Sturos remarked, “It was a humbling experience to be recognized at such a distinguished conference.”  Isaacson was proud of her team and grateful for the “great opportunity to see many different perspectives on the world of finance… and it was a fun experience!”

Are you a current student interested in joining a future APMP team?  The APMP application is available online!  Interested in becoming a student in the School of Business and Economics?  Apply for free today!

Johnson Conquers NASDAQ

Members from the Applied Portfolio Management Program (APMP) were in New York City last week for Quinnipiac University’s Global Asset Management Education (G.A.M.E.) IV Forum, co-sponsored by NASDAQ OMX.  The event allowed 1,000+ participants from 118 colleges/universities a chance to network while gaining insight into the opportunities and challenges experienced by investment professionals.

Photo courtesy of Heath Johnson
Photo courtesy of Heath Johnson

Current SBE students and members of APMP, Heath Johnson and Claire Johnson, were on site at G.A.M.E. for the student-managed portfolio competition, which is open to students nationwide who have successfully managed their own actual portfolios.  Dr. Dean Johnson, Founding Director of the Applied Portfolio Management Program, stated, “By providing the opportunity to attend this investment conference in NYC, APMP continues to offer Tech students with direct educational experiences.”

Photo courtesy of Heath Johnson

Not only did current SBE student Heath Johnson gain the educational experience of competing at G.A.M.E., he was also able to close the NASDAQ and appeared on the NASDAQ Market Site display in Times Square!  Heath remarked, “Attending an investment conference with current Wall Street professionals and participating in the NASDAQ closing ceremony was a great experience.  Having my photo up on the NASDAQ Market Site in Times Square was a motivating taste of where my business education could take me.”

Would you like to see where your business education could take you?  Apply today to begin your undergraduate studies at Michigan Tech’s School of Business and Economics!

Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President Meets with Students

President Kocherlakota spoke to APMP students about monetary policy and it's ability to influence and prices in the US economy.

Narayana Kocherlakota, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, spoke to students in Michigan Tech’s School of Business and Economics about monetary policy and its ability to influence employment and prices in the US economy.

Kocherlakota’s district is the second largest geographically and least populated, he said, stretching from Montana to the Upper Peninsula. As one of twelve districts, he is part of regular meetings of the Federal Reserve open market committee where Ben Bernanke, chair of the committee and Federal Reserve Board, presides.

The representatives of each Federal Reserve District Bank share information about their districts and eventually produce policy. “It’s pretty structured,” he said “And that’s good; it’s not a debate.”

The Federal Reserve is focused on two main macroeconomic variables in their policy deliberations according to Kocherlakota. Price stability–keeping inflation at 2 percent or lower–and reducing unemployment to at least 6.5 percent. They use the federal funds interest rate as the control variable to achieve these two goals.

The unemployment rate is currently at 7.3 percent, and the federal funds interest rate is targeted at 0.25 percent. He does not see that interest rate changing soon.

Questions from the students and others focused on current strategies, and the recession of 2008 seemed to be part of nearly every answer. Kocherlakota stressed that he was answering for himself, and it was not to be taken as official Federal Reserve Bank responses.

When asked about following commodities like oil and gold, Kocherlakota said the Federal Reserve does follow commodity prices.

“Oil can be seen as putting pressure on inflation,” he said. “And it’s hard to predict oil prices. In 2008, oil prices went sky high the first part of the year, but when they collapsed, as they usually do, inflation came down, too.”

The price of gold went up in 2008, due to people’s fear of what to do with their money, he said.

“The Dow Jones was down to 6,000 then,” he said. “When gold dropped in price recently, it meant people were more confident, less fearful than in 2008.”

Kocherlakota also said that the fed can control the federal funds interest rate, but other rates are based on the demands for goods today versus goods in the future. US Treasury securities are still in demand because of their low risk.

How does the global market inflation affect your decision-making, he was asked.

“It’s another factor for us to think about, that could influence our performance, but we are not like New Zealand where it’s all they think about. The US is a relatively closed economy.”

And does he think about the fiscal health of his own district over that of the US?

“We all provide information about our districts, but we make policy for the country,” he said. “Officially, Kansas City, San Francisco and Minneapolis get one vote to represent all three. We vote on national matters.”

As for his district’s economy?

“It’s doing well, but I don’t think the fed can take credit,” Kocherlakota said. “The Upper Peninsula faces challenges that are historical in nature. Montana and Minnesota have unemployment around 5 percent. North Dakota has the oil boom and is around 3 percent. They can’t find people to work in McDonalds! South Dakota is below 4 percent and a bit of a mystery. The labor market could actually be stronger, the economy could be stronger. There are still some 2008 effects.”

This story was oringally posted in Tech Today by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor, for Michigan Technological University’s University Marketing and Communication.