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Taking stock: Students manage to hold their own in market contest


Top row: Steve Gonick, principal of Adirondack Small Cap Mutual Fund, Henry Andrew Kauffmann '14, Jack Wilson '15, Michael Wollner '14, Tim Meyer '14. Bottom row: Adviser Brad Lewis, Frank Castiglione '14, Kyle Cavaretta 14. (Photo by Matt Milless)
Top row: Steve Gonick, principal of Adirondack Small Cap Mutual Fund, Henry Andrew Kauffmann '14, Jack Wilson '15, Michael Wollner '14, Tim Meyer '14. Bottom row: Adviser Brad Lewis, Frank Castiglione '14, Kyle Cavaretta 14. (Photo by Matt Milless)

Imagine if you were given a portfolio of stocks valued at $1 million to manage. Your portfolio includes five small cap stocks (defined as companies with market caps between $50 million and $3 billion) from different industries, and each holding must be at least 5 percent but no more than 50 percent of the portfolio. You're allowed to make only two trades over a six-month period.

This was the challenge presented to a team of Union students who participated in the 2013 Adirondack Cup, sponsored by the Adirondack Small Cap Mutual Fund (ADKSX). Students from 18 Northeast colleges competed to see which team could build and grow a small cap portfolio.

The goal is to teach students the difference between trading stocks and thinking through their investment decisions for the long term and to help them make appropriate connections in the financial services sector as they prepare to enter the job market.

“We have a strong network of clients, particularly in the Northeast, who have been actively tracking the performance of students from their favorite schools," said Adirondack Principal Steve Gonick, who met with Union's team in January. "This has given the students a great opportunity to build their contacts as they enter the workforce.”

Beginning in October, Union's team, advised by Bradley Lewis, professor of economics, met at least twice a month in a Lippmann Hall conference room in to manage their imaginary portfolio.

When the results of the competition were announced this week, Union finished an impressive fourth, behind Siena, St. Lawrence University and St. John Fisher College. Union's fund had a 31.13 percent return, beating the Russell 2000 Index, which measures the performance of small cap stocks in the U.S.; the index had a return of 15.40 percent for the same period.

"The entire process - developing a cohesive team, conducting statistical analysis and evaluating market research - was a wonderful learning experience," said Henry Andrew Kauffman '14, an entrepreneurial studies major.

Kauffman and portfolio leader Michael Wollner '14, an economics major, got the idea for Union to form a team after working as communications interns at the Adirondack Small Cap Mutual Fund (ADKSX) in nearby Guilderland. Other members of the team included Frank Castiglione ’14 (mechanical engineering), Kyle Cavaretta '14 (political science), Jack Wilson '15 (political science) and Tim Meyer '14 (economics).

"My time spent studying trends in the technical sector of the stock market helped give me a chance to experiment with the business side of current technical issues," said Castiglione.

Union's team stayed in the top five for much of the competition, and the experience already has them looking forward to next year's contest.

"This was a great chance for the students to use what they'd learned both on and off campus," said their adviser, Lewis. "They represented the College extremely well."

Other schools that competed were Binghamton University, Clarkson University, Hofstra University, Ithaca College, Stony Brook University, Rochester Institute of Technology, State University of New York at Geneseo, State University of New York at Plattsburgh, University at Albany, the College at Brockport, Stony Brook University Graduate School, Bryn Mawr College, the College of St. Rose and Wesleyan University.

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