When it comes to The Blade's annual Stock Market Game, a good rule of thumb is: No lead is safe.
Just as it appeared that a three-month contest leader from Toledo was on the verge of pulling away, a stock pick belonging to the runner-up caught fire in July and as a result, a new leader has emerged in the yearlong contest.
Kathy Ansted of Holland, who had been in second place for two months, is now in first with a portfolio of $121,932, up 305 percent from the beginning of the contest. Her top pick, Teck Resources Ltd., a Canadian mining firm, rose 56 percent in July and is up 477 percent for the year.
Falling to second with $119,794, a gain of 300 percent, is the previous leader, Susan Darmofal of Toledo. She had been cruising along on the strength of biotech firm Dendreon Corp., which is up 437 percent.
"I kind of follow it and I thought I was possibly ahead," said Ms. Ansted, finance director for Charlie's Dodge in Maumee.
The contest required entrants to pick two New York Stock Exchange and two Nasdaq stocks worth at least $3 a share, and whichever portfolio increases the most in value by year's end wins.
Ms. Ansted looked for stocks that appeared to be seriously devalued but likely to bounce back.
Besides Teck Resources, she picked Russian mining firm Mechel OAO and solar firms Solarfun Power Holdings and Ascent Solar Technologies.
Scott Anderson, a financial adviser at the Toledo office of Smith Barney, which is a contest co-sponsor and tabulator of the monthly results, said mining company stocks have skyrocketed. Mrs. Darmofal, and five of the top 10 leaders in the contest, have mining stocks.
"All metal companies and mining companies are doing well and a big reason is the 'cash for clunkers' program and the revival of the auto industry," Mr. Anderson said.
The Blade's Business News department's dartboard portfolio is in 533rd place at $42,314, up 6 percent.
Nearly 700 people entered the contest. First prize is $200 in cash and a three-day/two-night/ trip for two people to Chicago, Toronto, or Tampa. The trip is covered by the contest co-sponsor, Central Travel of Toledo.
The second-place prize is $300 in cash; third place is $200.
The other contest leaders and their portfolio values are: Marlene Farkas, Toledo, $94,266; Eleanore Darmofal, Toledo, $88,665; Natalie Shulze, Toledo, $85,869; Jon Drescher, Grand Rapids, Mich., $85,633; Charles Hoecherl, Monclova Township, $85,463; Aaron Howell, Tiffin, $83,165; Greg Dienstberger, Perrysburg, $82,646, and Jim Spotts, Petersburg, Mich., $80,164.
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