3 teams stay atop the field as 2nd, 3rd switch spots in the Blade's School Stock Contest


In football, a good offensive line can make the difference between gaining ground and losing it.

And in the 2010 Blade School Stock Contest, having four stocks all moving in the same direction certainly seems to help teams stay among the leaders. One month into the 12-week contest, the three leading teams stayed the same last week, although the second and third place teams switched positions.

Victory, consisting of 10 junior-high students from the small school in suburban Whitehouse sponsored by the Sisters of Notre Dame, retained the lead for the second straight week, now with a portfolio valued at $47,920. Moving into second place was the BGSU4 team, a group of 17 high schoolers from the Practical Money Skills class at Bowling Green High School at $46,501. BosBros, a group of eighth graders from Rossford Junior High, slipped from second to third at $46,202.

The contest, sponsored by The Blade's Newspaper in Education program and Fifth Third Bank, includes 98 teams from 33 schools across northwest Ohio. Each team chose a portfolio of four stocks trading for at least $3 a share. A hypothetical $40,000 was divided evenly among the stocks.

The winner will be the portfolio with the biggest gains by the end of the contest April 30. The winner will receive $250 for the school and $250 for the team. The school of the second-place team gets $250; the third place school, $100.

On March 19 — midpoint of the contest — teams will have an opportunity to change any or all of their stocks.

The second-place BGHS4 team picked up more than 5 percent on their imaginary portfolio last week, while the contest leaders, Victory, from Lial Catholic School in suburban Whitehouse, stayed flat. BGHS4's portfolio consists of networking company Juniper Networks Inc., Chinese online company Baidu Inc., resort company Las Vegas Sands Corp., and motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson Inc.

Ron Nickey, whose class of 9th through 12th graders is in second place, said the students on the team made their picks after getting a quick lesson on financial fundamentals like return on equity.

He said the students made their picks based on a number of factors, including familiarity with products, recent news events, and “a belief that they were ready to move.” Mr. Nickey said he suggested individual sectors to his students as well.

“They had some logic behind their picks, and it's working out for them. That's good,” Mr. Nickey said.

The Victory team's contest-leading portfolio consists of Toledo tableware manufacturer Libbey Inc., clothing retailer Hot Topic Inc., gunmaker Sturm Ru ger & Co. Inc., and cell-phone giant Motorola Inc.

Matt Faltys, vice president and director of portfolio management for Fifth Third Bank, said he has been amazed at the quality of the stocks picked by students in this year's contest.

“I don't know if it's great research or just the timing of the pick,” Mr. Faltys said, noting that 66 of the 98 teams in the contest beat the benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 index last week. “What's that old quote, ‘Luck favors the well-prepared'?”

For the first month of the contest, Mr. Faltys, said 59 teams are ahead of the S&P index. Just eight teams are in the red.

“It's good stock picking,” he said.

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