The USC Value Investing Group, an undergraduate business finance organization, hosted a two-day investment conference this weekend with students from across the country.
The USC Stock Pitch Competition is the first of its kind to be hosted on the West Coast. The purpose of the competition is to offer a platform for students to showcase their talents in value investing and to network with like-minded individuals and industry professionals. Senior members from the Value Investing Group have participated in similar competitions before at universities like Harvard, University of Michigan and Georgetown but realized that no such competition existed on the West Coast, because the finance industry is centered in New York.
Recently, West Coast universities have been sending more students to the finance industry, so the Value Investing Group organized this competition in order to give more West Coast students the chance to participate in this type of event and put USC on the map of finance recruiters.
The conference was the final round of a stock pitch competition that began in early February. To participate, approximately 25 teams submitted two page investment theses summarizing a risk profile, industry analysis and a valuation of a company of their choosing with a market capitalization of at least 100 million dollars. The event sponsors then selected the top 13 investment ideas to continue on in the competition.
The event kicked off on Friday night with a keynote address from Arthur Lev, the chairman of Morgan Stanley’s investment management division and a current senior advisor to the firm. Following the introductions, students had the opportunity to network with industry professionals from many companies including Morgan Stanley, Capello Global and Solstein Capital. In the first round on Saturday, 13 teams from New York University, USC, University of Texas at Austin, University of Michigan, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego and Washington University in St. Louis presented to panels of judges, recent alumni of USC working in the finance industry. The top three teams were then chosen to present before the three final round judges — Lev, Alexander Capello, the CEO of Cappello Group Inc., and Felix Bernshteyn, a portfolio manager at Solstein Capital.
“The main value of this competition is the access these students get to highly influential industry leaders and recent alumni,” Daniel Clancy, president of USC Value Investing Group, said. “The purpose of the club is to try educate younger students about industry analysis, picking stocks, corporate finance and company valuation. The Stock Pitch Competition gives students from across the country the chance to apply these skills.”
The winning team was from UT Austin and was awarded $1,000 for their efforts. The members — Phoebe Lin, Vishal Bhat, Arjo Mozumder and Karna Venkatraj — chose Electronics for Imaging, a digital printing firm, as their company of choice.
“The preparation process for the competition involved several all-nighters and a lot of work,” Bhat said. “It was worth it, though. I have participated in a national stock pitch competition before, but I really enjoyed the diversity and level of experience of everyone on the career panel here.”
The professionals chosen to judge and mentor the students had similarly laudatory comments for the students.
“All of the presentations were thoughtful and incredibly impressive,” Lev said. “I have listened to many pitches before, and these students were on par with professionals in the industry.”