As The Blade's Stock Market Game heads into the final quarter, the two contestants jockeying for the lead have switched places yet again.
Kathy Ansted of Holland, who surrendered the lead in August, vaulted back into first through September with an imaginary portfolio totaling $132,497, up 231 percent since the contest began.
Meanwhile, Susan Darmofal of Toledo, who was leading at the end of August and has been atop the contest for four of its nine months, slipped back to second with a portfolio of $119,707, up 199 percent.
"We've got three months to go now. We'll see what happens," Ms. Ansted, finance director for Charlie's Dodge in Maumee, said upon learning that she's the frontrunner once more.
Scott Anderson, a financial adviser at the Toledo office of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, which is a contest co-sponsor and tabulator of the monthly results, said one stock in Ms. Ansted's portfolio - Russian mining and steel producer Mechel OAO ADS - boosted her back into first.
"In October their price was as low as $11 a share. But it ended the month at $17. The rest of her stocks were relatively flat. That [Russian steel firm] made all the difference in the world," Mr. Anderson said.
Besides Mechel OAO, Ms. Ansted's portfolio has Canadian mining firm Teck Resources Ltd. and solar firms Solarfun Power Holdings and Ascent Solar Technologies.
Mr. Anderson said traditionally steady stocks, like utilities and telecoms, have lagged, but riskier issues like banks and raw materials have soared.
Moving into third was Mrs. Darmofal's sister-in-law, Eleanore Darmofal, of Toledo, whose portfolio was $109,155, up 173 percent.
Susan Darmofal said the two relatives didn't discuss the contest initially, but have since become aware they are competing for both contest and family honors. "I would certainly like to beat her, but neither of us may end up there the way the market is going," Susan added.
Her portfolio has biotech firm Dendreon Corp., mining firms Thompson Creek Metals Co. and Yamana Gold Inc., and digital video recorder maker Tivo Inc. Eleanor Darmofal has mining firm Freeport McMoran, Dow Chemical Corp., medical gear maker Aspect Medical Systems, Inc., and Medarex Inc., a cancer-drug firm bought out this year by Bristol-Meyers Squibb.
A total of 681 contestants entered with hypothetical portfolios made up of two New York Stock Exchange and two Nasdaq stocks that were worth at least $3 a share, by Dec. 31, 2008. They divided an imaginary $40,000 evenly among the four. The Blade's Business News desk's randomly selected portfolio currently is 537th at $43,754, up 9 percent.
The top portfolio at year's end wins $200 and a trip to Chicago, Toronto, or Tampa, courtesy of contest co-sponsor Central Travel of Toledo. Second place gets $300, and third place gets $200.
Other contest leaders and their portfolio values are: Jim Spotts, Petersburg, Mich., $104,402; Aaron Howell, Tiffin, $98,868; Marlene Farkas, Toledo, $97,815; Ken Weislak, Perrysburg, $94,733; Peter Genot, Sylvania, $94,386; Ivan Finney, Sylvania, $91,014, and George Gusses, Toledo, $90,881.
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