The first-month leader in The Blade's Stock Market Game reader portfolio contest is Angela Monday, a 46-year-old Toledo homemaker and mother of five, who went entirely with high-tech electronic and wireless telephone companies.
Her hypothetical portfolio gained nearly 37 percent in January, from a beginning value of $40,000 to $54,643. She leads more than 1,000 readers in the early stage of the contest that will reward the year-end winner with airline tickets for two to any city in the continental United States.
Entrants had to choose four stocks selling for $5 or more per share at year-end - two listed on the New York Stock Exchange and two on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Each contestant started with a mythical $40,000, evenly divided among the four stocks. The winning portfolio will be the one gaining the most dollar value during 2004.
The second-place finisher will receive $300 in cash, and third place will receive $100. The tabulations are done by the Toledo office of Smith Barney, and the first-place prize is provided by Atlas World Travel, both contest co-sponsors.
Mrs. Monday said she opted for tech stocks because “they seem to be the best.” She and her husband, Lee - a maintenance supervisor at General Motors' Toledo Powertrain plant - regularly watch stock-market reports on CNBC, she said.
“We went for lower-priced stocks because we thought we could get more out of them than higher-priced stocks,” she said.
All of her picks gained strongly last month. Her NYSE choices were Sprint Corp. PCS Group, up 45 percent to $8.13, and AT&T Wireless Services, up 38 percent to $11.05. Her Nasdaq choices were Vitesse Semiconductor Corp., up 41 percent to $8.25, and Applied Microcircuits Corp., up 22 percent to $7.31.
Not very far behind her is Suzanne Jurgens of Perrysburg, whose portfolio was up 36 percent, at $54,468. Her portfolio is composed of some similar stocks. She has Telular Corp. and Manguistics Group on Nasdaq and Medtronic, Inc., and entertainment giant Viacom, Inc., on NYSE.
Many of the top portfolios for January featured tech and telecommunications stocks.
“That was kind of a momentum play,” said LaMont Stewart, a financial consultant with the local office of Smith Barney. “Later in the year, we'll probably see a leadership change [in the contest]. ... You have almost a ‘honeymoon' in January, but later in the year, you see more of a focus on earnings.”
The leader among four challengers is Ted Sipes, of Bowling Green, a retired teacher who is president of the Northwest Buckeye chapter of National Association of Investors Corp., which oversees investment clubs in the area. His portfolio, up 22 percent, consists of Sprint PCS, up 45 percent; Illumina, Inc., up 24 percent; Atmel Corp., up 18 percent, and Home Depot, down less than 1 percent. He chose Home Depot largely because he works there and he expects the firm to do well this year. He selected the others based on Value Line research.
One other professional challenger, Sarah Berndt of Fifth Third Bank, is up 6 percent; and another, Mark Evans, of Trust Co. of Toledo, is down 2 percent. The Blade's “dartboard portfolio,” chosen at random, is down 3 percent. The challengers are not eligible to win prizes.
The final eight leaders among readers, and the amounts to which their portfolios grew in January, are: Mike Martin, Toledo, $52,457; Larry Calmes, Toledo, $52,389; Jim Gilbert, Sylvania, $52,155; Jerry Operacz, Temperance, $51,980; Doris Steinberg, Toledo, $51,795; Tom Tapliger, Toledo, $51,602; Karen Friemoth, Toledo, $51,076; and Dave Fretter, Bowling Green, $51,062.