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Interactive Investment Conference Challenges Undergraduates

4/7/2010 --

BBAs converge on Ross to pitch investment opportunities and meet industry professionals.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Ross School's Michigan Interactive Investments (MII) Club recently hosted undergraduate teams from top schools around the country to pitch stocks, meet leading market experts, and engage in a trading simulation. The MII conference's intercollegiate stock pitch competition is the first event of its kind tailored specifically to undergraduate business students.

On March 19, more than 20 teams from as far as University of Oxford, Brown University, and Yale University converged at Ross for the second annual event. They presented investment ideas to a panel of judges in hopes of winning a $3,000 cash prize. A home team of Ross BBAs won the competition for their pitch regarding specialty chemical company W.R. Grace & Co.

"The Ross team was one of the few who presented an idea with a concrete catalyst," said MII Co-president Evan Plisner. "Rather than focusing on a cyclical name that would simply bounce back with the economy, their pitch included a thesis that would be valid with or without an economic recovery."

Keynote speaker David Richter of Grosvenor Capital Management kicked off the two-day conference by defending hedge funds and discussing industry trends. Richter is a member of Grosvenorís investment committee, a portfolio manager, and director of research.

"People predicted the demise of hedge funds in 1998, but they outperformed everything," he said. "We saw the same kind of headlines again in 2007 and 2008, but once again, hedge funds outperformed the global market. Hedge funds have been pretty resilient."

Even though there are a lot of macroeconomic headwinds these days, it's still a favorable market for hedge funds, Richter noted. "Bank and government balance sheets aren't as healthy, but hedge funds are well-positioned and competition is lower. It's an uncertain world, so if you can make money on distressed, bankrupt, or reorganized companies, you're going to do well."

Plisner said he believes pinning Richter for the keynote speech added value for student attendees.

"Given the recent press regarding hedge funds and other private pools of capital, we thought a presentation by one of the leading hedge fund investors in the world would be quite timely," he said.

Hugh "Beau" Cummins III, MBA '89, presented the eventís second keynote. Cummins is the co-head of corporate and investment banking at SunTrust, as well as chairman and CEO of SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. He discussed his professional trajectory and offered career advice to students.

"The conference helps augment our academic experience with lessons learned from leadership in industries that many BBAs are looking to enter after graduation," said Ken Michalzuk, co-president of MII and conference director. "We hope this event imparts both theoretical and real-world knowledge on the finance world."

—Leah Sipher-Mann

For more information, contact:
Bernie DeGroat, (734) 936-1015 or 647-1847, bernied@umich.edu