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Published: Tuesday, 4/8/2008

Leader farther ahead with 3 weeks left

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

With The Blade s School Stock Contest winding down, the leader remains the same for a fourth straight week and is giving indications of pulling away from the pack.

The Dragon$ team from Erie Huron Ottawa Educational Service Center in Genoa padded its margin by an additional $430 last week and now leads the second-place entrant, the ATAMAW team from Swanton Middle School, by nearly $2,900 with just three weeks to go.

Through Friday, the Dragon$ fictional portfolio of four stocks was valued at $54,091, up 35 percent thus far in the 14-week contest, which ends April 25. The ATAMAW team s portfolio stood at $51,195, up 28 percent. Third place is Big $, of Luckey Elementary, with a portfolio at $50,528, up nearly 27 percent.

Swanton teacher Jennifer Schmidt said it is ironic that ATAMAW, a team of five eighth-grade girls, is as high as second place because the group was the least interested among the eight Swanton middle school and elementary school teams she entered.

They almost felt like I was torturing them. They would say, Do we have to do this? Ms. Schmidt said. They just drug their feet on everything, so it s really a comical thing to me that they re out up front on this.

Ms. Schmidt said she encouraged teams to pick stock connected to things you use daily if you re using them, then other people might be buying them. The ATAMAW group chose First Solar Inc., Dell Inc., Verizon Communications, and Netflix Inc.

The leader, Dragon$, has Whirlpool Corp., Cabela s Inc., CSX, Inc., and First Solar in its portfolio.

Since ATAMAW began rising in the standings, its members have become avid stock market followers, Ms. Schmidt said. As an incentive, she promised to have a pizza party for all the teams if any finished first, second, or third, so now all the teams are rooting ATAMAW on.

This contest has been a great thing because it s something we can touch on every week. It s shown them how volatile stocks can be, the teacher said. When we started this I would say a good share of my kids didn t even know what a stock was, so at least we ve opened up the world to many of these kids.

Matt Faltys, vice president and director of portfolio management for Fifth Third Bank, a co-sponsor of this year s contest, said solar-power stocks led by First Solar solidified gains last week by all three team leaders.

The contest has 104 teams from 26 schools. Each team picked four stocks two each from the Nasdaq and New York Stock Exchange selling for at least $5 a share.

An imaginary $10,000 is allocated to each stock, and the team whose portfolio has the highest value at the end will win.

More than 1,325 students are participating in the contest, and 72 teams had portfolios with a positive value last week.

First place receives $500, to be divided between the team and its school, second place wins $250 for its school, and third place wins $100 for its school.

Contact Jon Chavez at:jchavez@theblade.comor 419-724-6128.



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