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Published: Tuesday, 3/1/2005

3 leaders retain top spots; 9 teams are in black

When the Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 174 points one day last week, a number of stocks involved in The Blade's Student Stock Contest also went south.

But most rebounded nicely by the week's end, said Brian Linn, assistant vice president of the Sky Investments unit of Sky Bank, a contest co-sponsor and contest tabulator.

"I was pleased they came back," said Mr. Linn. "Some of the teams are hanging on pretty well."

After week 6 of the 16-week competition that includes 22 teams from 14 northwest Ohio schools, three teams have held the lead - in the same order - for a month.

But the rest of the pack are hanging in too: Nine teams are now in the black, and six others are within $1,000 of the break-even point on their hypothetical $40,000 portfolios.

The teams that include nearly 250 students, ranging from fifth graders to high school seniors, are competing for prizes. The team that finishes in first place will win $250 for their school and $250 in gift certificates for the team. A second-place finish will win $150 for the school, and third place will win $100 for the school. The Blade's Newspaper in Education program is also a contest co-sponsor.

Each team started Jan. 14 with four stocks trading at $5 or more, and their portfolios of $40,000 each were divided equally among their choices. The contest ends, and the portfolio values will be determined, at the close of the markets on April 29.

The contest leader from the start has been the Survivors team from Oregon's Clay High School, whose portfolio, now up 13 percent, consists of Hershey Foods Corp., Home Depot Inc., KCS Energy Inc., and Wesco International Inc., a supplier of electrical construction equipment.

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