University of Southern California

Pick a Winner: USC Marshall Trojans Outperform Rivals
Undergraduates Yield High Returns in Georgetown Stock Pick Competition
April 25, 2014 • by News at Marshall

When it comes to strategy, close watchers of the financial markets may debate the most effective approach. But this spring, a group of savvy USC Marshall undergraduates proved the value of value investing, placing first in the 2014 Georgetown Stock Pick Competition.

The students—Asher Genoot ’16, Kes Rittenberg ’16 and Brentley Campbell ’14—represented USC as part of the Value Investing Group (VIG), a multi-disciplinary club attracting members from both Marshall and the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. With their recommendation of a “buy” on Horsehead Holdings (NASDAQ: ZINC), they bested 20 competitors from other top-tier business schools including Wharton, Stern and Haas.

“The competition was a great opportunity for us to conduct research and pitch our idea to industry professionals. We were not only able to learn from our own work and preparation but also from our peers’ presentations,” says Genoot. “It’s a great way to build on what we do as part of VIG.”

VIG started five years ago, according to Genoot. “We meet once a week,” he says, “to talk about value investing—analyzing companies, discussing reading and sharing updates. We’re passionate about it, and you have to be, because it’s so work intensive.”

The return on the students’ investment, Genoot continues, is considerable. “The students that follow through with VIG absolutely love it,” he says. Participation yields tangible benefits, as well: VIG graduates have gone on to distinguished careers with global asset management powerhouses such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Capital Group and Harris Associates.

At the Georgetown competition—one of two major contests nationwide (the other takes place at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business in the fall)—teams get broken into four brackets, each consisting of six teams, during the first round; victors move on to the final round to give a 12-minute pitch, followed by eight minutes of Q&A. A panel of three judges evaluates the merits of the presentations, which includes an overview of the company, industry, competitive advantages and valuation. Horsehead Holdings, VIG’s winning pick, produces zinc metal. “The business maintains a sizable cost advantage over its competitors, and we believe the market has failed to recognize the potential for upside from global zinc pricing dynamics, among other factors,” Genoot says.

The VIG team’s first-place finish netted them a $2,000 prize, half of which Genoot, Rittenberg and Campbell have designated for the Dakshana Foundation, a nonprofit that provides educational opportunities to low-income, high-potential students in India. “VIG is about pushing ourselves to do better,” Genoot notes. “Helping other students develop the skills to succeed is right in line with our mission.”

Next up for Marshall’s VIG members: collaborating with Dean Ellis to establish a stock pitching competition on the West Coast. “There’s so much talent out here,” Genoot says. “We would love to help bring it together with a conference of our own.”

About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.