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Stock picking competition nearly too close to call

  • Communications
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  • May 4, 2018
Stock picking competition nearly too close to call

May 7 update: The 2018 Ben Graham Centre’s International Stock Picking Competition was featured in an article on the Globe and Mail. Read it here.

The next generation of value investors put their skills on display during the 2018 Ben Graham Centre’s International Stock Picking Competition. The event organized and chaired by George Athanassakos, The Ben Graham Chair in Value Investing at the Ivey Business School was a truly a global event. Twenty-three teams from MBA schools around the world (from India to Greece and UK to USA) locked horns for the right to compete for $14,000 in prize money.

After teams submitted a report on a value stock, judges whittled the competition down to three schools. Teams from the Ivey; Oxford’s Said Business School; and the Cass Business School of City, University of London traveled to Toronto to face off in-person.

With only a week to prepare a valuation report on BC-based company Westshore Terminals Ltd., the three finalists made their presentations in front of a prestigious panel of value investors.

Rob Robotti, Founder and Chief Investment Officer, Robotti & Company Advisors LLC, chair of the judging panel, felt the teams were very evenly matched.

“The judging and the final tallies couldn’t get more closely correlated,” said Robotti. “Universally all three teams did a really great job with their presentations. So it was an interesting thing to be sitting on the other side. It was a really hard decision when everyone did such a fine job.”

In spite of some initial nerves, the team of Varun Venkatraman and Akane Vallery Uchida of the Cass Business School claimed the victory.

“It all came together in a bit of a rush,” said Venkatraman. “(I was) absolutely nervous, my voice was shaking, and stumbled through the first two lines, nervous, sweating, shaking.”

“It really threw me off because I’ve never seen him nervous before,” explained Vallery Uchida. “I don’t think anyone could tell unless you knew him. Hang on, he’s actually nervous. I was like, what am I supposed to do now?”

The team from Cass showed poise the rest of way and according to Robotti demonstrated a balanced understanding of Westshore’s business.

“It was a really comprehensive approach that looked at the people, the business itself, their execution, the industry and the particulars of the economics of the business and the valuation,” he said.

Venkatraman and Vallery Uchida were very grateful for the opportunity to compete.

“It was such a good experience because you could really feel how the judges were thinking the best for us in terms of the feedback,” said Vallery Uchida. “It was extremely detailed. Not only about the investment decisions, but even about presentation, giving advice about how to speak.”

Rounding out the results, the team from the Ivey finished second and Oxford, third.