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Finance Professionals Grill Students on Stock Recommendations

Tampa, FL (October 12, 2012) — Finance majors in the Applied Security Analysis class that runs the USF Student Managed Investment Fund had their first presentation of the year on Thursday, presenting stock analysis and recommendations to a room full of seasoned finance professionals.

Jack Rader prepares the students

The 10 students, divided into three groups, recommended retail chain Kohl's, auto parts manufacturer Tenneco, Inc., and headphone marketer Skullcandy for investment.

And that investment isn't hypothetical -- there is real money on the line. The College of Business invests approximately $225,000 into a portfolio made up of the stocks that students pick.

The upper-level finance students, who are handpicked for the course after an application and interview process, spent the first half of the semester researching and evaluating financial markets and stocks so that they could ultimately pitch their best investment ideas to their peers, faculty members, and the course advisory board.

The course advisory board, made up of professional asset/money managers from firms such as Wood Asset Management, Merrill Lynch/BOA, Sabal Trust Company, Northern Trust, and many other leading regional and global firms, plays a key role in deciding which stocks are picked, if any.

On Thursday, advisory board members grilled students on everything from leverage to celebrity spokespersons to typos in their presentations.

"You said that the economy was in good shape," an advisory board member told one student on the Kohl's team. "You would get your head chopped off for that. That's a horrible statement to make."

Another advisory board member questioned the pick of Tenneco, a company with recently increased debt obligations.

"What if they can't borrow and they can't sell," the board member said. "It looks to me like this one is on the edge of going away."

Despite the questioning that made students sweat, Jack Rader, instructor for the course and executive director of the Financial Management Association International, said he was mostly impressed by the first presentation. By the end of the spring semester, the students will be prepared for any question that gets thrown at them -- and will hopefully come back with stronger stock recommendations.

At this first presentation, students hadn't received any feedback from Rader on their work before going before the board.

"In a sense, we're sending the students in here naked," he said. "But that's OK, isn't it? Because that's what it's like out there."