Business students compete to manage real investment portfolio

February 4, 2013

Most business students spend hours talking about investment portfolios and managing money. Business students at Texas Lutheran University actually have the opportunity to work on these skills.

The Bulldog Investment Challenge, part of the Bulldog Investment Company, is a competition where students manage a portfolio with actual money and present their research based on the same criteria Warren Buffett uses in his management of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc.

Judges decide which team they would most likely invest with and choose the winner. The challenge, funded with $10,000 from Sather Financial Group, puts half the money towards the TLU business department and splits the remaining half 70-30 between the two teams. This year, students presented the companies of Dollar Tree and World Acceptance Corporation, with the Dollar Tree group coming out on top.

For almost five years, students have used the Warren Buffett strategies and generated returns of 12.89 percent each year. TLU alumnus Dave Sather, president of Sather Financial Group and Bulldog Investment Group founder, said by teaching students these skills they develop a functional understanding of interpreting financial statements, know how to identify competitive advantages and learn to value a business and its ethics.

“The fact that my students are dealing with actual money and doing the research makes them understand success rests on their decisions,” Sather said. “The money is tracked dollar in and dollar out. If they do something wrong, they’ll see it in black and white. Anyone can read about these skills in a book. I wanted my students to actually do it and they have far more ownership because it’s not a simulation. It’s real.”

Senior finance major Emily Toensing has been part of the Bulldog Investment Company since 2012. Although this wasn’t her first financial presentation, it was her first challenge.

“This activity pushes us to put forth the effort and work in choosing a company that would work well in our own portfolio,” Toensing said. “We experience what it’s like to be in front of a board of directors which is applicable to any job setting where you’d give a presentation. My involvement with the group and the challenge has given me more confidence in my presentation skills, and the confidence to know when I’m looking at a strong or weak company as I go through financial statements and annual reports.”

Ed Lette, Business Bank of Texas president and chairman of the TLU business department advisory council, attended this year’s challenge and was very impressed with the students.

“The entire program is phenomenal,” Lette said. “Most students would have to be at the master’s level to gain this type of experience. It will be extremely helpful to them. Not only was their research impeccable, they’re gaining sound analysis of financial statements as well as perfecting their presentation skills. Whether or not they go into the financial field, they’re learning valuable tools for any profession.”

Sather said that has always been one of his main goals: to prepare students for success.

“I want them to have a deeper appreciation for what they do and I think the Bulldog Investment Challenge does just that,” Sather said. “It’s very rewarding for them and for myself.”

Watch the Bulldog Investment Challenge in action on YouTube.

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