Just ask Michael Lessa, Paige Patton, Shane Kennedy and Jesus Madrigal.
The four University of Michigan-Dearborn students have spent hundreds of hours researching the popular food company in order to project its financial and stock performance over the next five years.
“We know so much about the company that we’re just short of being employees,” said Lessa, a senior finance major who last year helped establish the Financial Investment Club at UM-Dearborn with Patton and faculty advisers Hei-Wai Lee and Yan Xie.
The UM-Dearborn team presented its findings to a panel of industry executives this month as part of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute Research Challenge. UM-Dearborn and other schools across Michigan and Ohio were asked to analyze the Kellogg Company’s financial records, then recommend whether investors should buy, sell or hold its stock.
The information acquired through weeks of research prompted the UM-Dearborn team to recommend investors hold on the Kellogg’s stock, which ultimately resulted in their first-place finish. With their victory, UM-Dearborn’s team will travel to Denver next month to compete for the Americas Regional championship.
That means UM-Dearborn’s team will remain fixated on Kellogg’s financials for at least a few more weeks.
“In the classroom, we’re given information and we just need to plug it into a formula,” said Patton, a senior finance major. “This is different because we actually have to find the information. It can get pretty tricky when you’re trying to determine a stock’s worth five years down the road.”
When things got tricky, Patton and her teammates could count on Lee and Carlos Rangel. Lee, a finance professor at UM-Dearborn, served as the team’s faculty adviser, while Rangel, who graduated from UM-Dearborn and now is a senior portfolio manager at the Kellogg Foundation, assisted the team as its industry mentor.
“The CFA Institute Research Challenge provides a wonderful opportunity for students to see what it’s like to perform in-depth research on a publicly-traded company and make an investment recommendation to a panel of Wall Street executives,” Lee said. “I’m sure this experience meant a lot to all the students who had a chance to participate.”
Lessa remains confident heading into the Americas Regional competition, considering this marks the first year UM-Dearborn fielded a team at the CFA Institute Research Challenge.
The competition not only helped UM-Dearborn finance students network with industry professionals, but they also were able to utilize their classroom education in a real-world setting.
“It was a great opportunity to show these companies just how fantastic our students really are at the College of Business (COB),” Lessa said. “It really put us on the map in the investment community, both locally and on an international scale.”
UM-Dearborn’s Financial Investment Club is one of many COB student organizations to achieve great success outside the classroom.
“We constantly encourage our students to get actively involved with clubs and organizations, as part of their professional development,” said COB Dean Raju Balakrishnan. “Students then are able to establish strong professional networks and acquire practical skills before they graduate, which certainly helps them immensely when they’re looking for a great start to their careers.”