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Published: Tuesday, 1/29/2008

Underwear underpins 1st week's leading team

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

After several weeks of intensive research, Laura Amburgey's sixth graders at Fallen Timbers Middle School now know all about financially sexy underwear.

Last week, the Waterville students roared out of the gate to grab the early lead of The Blade's School Stock Contest on the strength of two stocks, premium underwear maker Under Armour Inc. and regional financial titan KeyCorp.

"They had two stocks that absolutely tore it up," said Matthew Faltys, vice president and director of portfolio management for the local Fifth Third Bank. "Those two stocks were more than enough to offset losses that they had in their other holdings," Coca-Cola Co., down 4 percent, and General Mills Inc., down 2 percent.

It is the first week's results in the 14-week contest. Just as in the world of finance, timing in the contest is everything.

The stocks picked by the 104 teams at 26 schools were chosen by Jan. 18, and a hypothetical $40,000 was divided evenly among each choice. The stocks had to trade that day above $5 a share. More than 1,325 students are participating in the contest.

The winning team will be the one with the largest portfolio by the close of markets on April 25. First place earns $500, divided evenly between the team and its school. Second place is $250 for the school and third place is $100 for the school.

Co-sponsors of the contest are The Blade's Newspaper in Education program and Fifth Third Bank, which tabulates results.

On the last day for the picks at Fallen Timbers Middle School, Under Armour shares had fallen more than 24 percent on a weak earnings projection. But the stock recovered all of that loss by the end of Jan. 18.

Mrs. Amburgey said the idea to invest in Under Armour came from student Akash Ramanujam, who had noticed the stock during research at home.

"I asked someone if they had heard of Under Armour, and I had heard that it was good for them. That's how I chose it," the student explained.

In second place in the contest is a team of seniors from Defiance High School, who benefitted largely from Arkansas trucking company Arkansas Best Corp., Mr. Faltys said.

"That stock popped 37.5 percent for the week, just off of earnings," he said.

The team, one of several from Defiance High, also has holdings in DTE Energy Co., Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., and ASV Inc., a construction equipment manufacturer in the midst of being taken over by another company.

Just over half of the teams had gains by the end of the first week.

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at: lvellequette@theblade.com or 419-724-6091.



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