Cornell Johnson Wins MBA Stock Pitch Challenge


The Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University had first introduced the annual MBA Stock Pitch Challenge for the Jack M. Ferraro Trophy in the early 2000s, an idea that was replicated by other schools.

Now, after a long gap of 12 years when the School did not figure in the first or second place, a three-member team has brought home the trophy.

Abdullah Al-Rezwan (MBA ’19), who, along with his batch mates Mark Krutty, and Shashank Manchanda, emerged winners, wrote about the experience in a blog post.

The Challenge involved dealing with 3 stocks within a timeframe of 12 hours. Abdullah says he and his team members received an email from the organisers on  Tuesday morning at 9 am assigning one common stock and two industries to the participating teams. They also provided a list of the eligible set of stocks in each of the two industries.

The teams had to decide whether to present a long (buy), neutral (hold) or a short (sell) recommendation on the common stock. For each of the two assigned industries, teams had to choose a company that they will pitch as either a long, neutral, or short candidate.

“We had 12 hours to complete our assignments. All assignments were due by 9 p.m. on Tuesday night,” Abdullah said.

All teams presented their recommendations on the common stock and on one industry-specific stock in the preliminary rounds on Thursday morning. The two highest scoring teams from each group in the preliminary round advanced to the final round in the afternoon and were given the opportunity to pitch their final stock.

“We didn’t have to wait in suspense for too long, as the result was declared 15 minutes after the final round. Wharton was named the runner-up, and after a few very tense seconds, Cornell was announced the winners of the 16th annual MBA Stock Pitch Challenge,”

Abdullah said it was a daunting task to develop an understanding of an unknown company’s business—including its fundamentals, strategies, and financial statement analysis—to come up with a value to recommend a buy/sell decision was a daunting task. Also, the time constraint made it even more difficult.

“For 12 hours on that Tuesday, we truly delved into those companies and immersed ourselves to find out what the business was really worth. When we submitted our stock pitch presentation slides, it was 8:58 p.m.,” he added.

On November 1, we left for NYC at 11 a.m. and reached the hotel 30 minutes prior to the start of the evening networking event. Fortunately, the event venue was just a 5-minute walk from the hotel where we were staying.

At the networking event in New York on November 1, the team had the opportunity to meet some of the Stock Pitch Challenge judges drawn from the investment management industry.

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They also managed to connect with some of the top investment companies, such as Fidelity Investments, Vanguard, American Century, ClearBridge, JP Morgan, and OppenheimerFunds. All these firms were also sponsors of the Stock Pitch Challenge.

The team also met students from other business schools and discussed our experiences in respective MBA programs. At 6 a.m. the following morning, they got an email about the sector to be presented in the second round.

“After our first and second presentations, we felt quite confident about our chances of making it to the final since we generally sensed a positive vibe from the judges during the pitch.

“Our intuitions proved to be spot on. Cornell, along with Wharton, Columbia, and Notre Dame, reached the final,” he added.

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“After the final round pitch, we really did not know what to expect. We felt we did just fine, but since we were the last team to present, we did not get the opportunity to watch the others’ presentations.

“We didn’t have to wait in suspense for too long, as the result was declared 15 minutes after the final round. Wharton was named the runner-up, and after a few very tense seconds, Cornell was announced the winners of the 16th annual MBA Stock Pitch Challenge,” he added.

Abdullah attributed the team’s success, among other factors, to the Investment Management Club where they learnt about financial modelling and pitch a stock even before completing the first core finance course.

A few other events such as the Parker Center’s summer Fundamental Investment Research Seminar and Stock Pitch Camp also helped them hone their skills.

“However, the major differentiating factor for us this year was that Johnson organized, for the first time, a Stock Pitch Mentoring Weekend, which brought alumni who are working in equity and credit research back to campus for one-on-one sessions with students to help them perfect their individual stock pitches,” he added.(Image


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