SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — For the third time in five years, Wittenberg University students beat the experts and earned a healthy return on their stock market investments to finish among the leaders in a collegiate competition. Wittenberg University’s Oak Associates Investment Club, a division of the Wittenberg Management Association (WMA), finished fifth in a national portfolio competition with a solid 18.6 percent return on its investments in 2004.
Members of the Wittenberg Investment Club created a portfolio of 10 stock issues to start the year and then managed their stocks to get the best returns. Wittenberg’s portfolio return placed the club fifth in the 20-school field in the Oak Associates Annual Portfolio Challenge, yielding a $1,000 prize, which was placed into the portfolio to allow it to continue to make money.
The field included schools from eight states, with 16 of the 20 clubs accumulating positive returns on their investments. Schools of all sizes were involved, including Miami University, American University, Northwestern University and Case Western Reserve University, all of which finished behind Wittenberg in the final standings.
Wittenberg’s Oak Associates Investment Club was founded in January 2000 after the department of management received a $50,000 grant from the Jim and Vanita Oelschlager Foundation. Jim Oelschlager, owner of Oak Associates, has been awarding these grants to colleges and universities since 1996.
Schools that receive the grants enter the annual competition. Portfolios are entered on Jan. 1 and then again on Dec. 31, giving the schools a full year to expand their portfolio.
After the challenge, Oak Associates tallies the returns on all school portfolios and then invites representatives to attend an “annual meeting.” The three students representing Wittenberg at the Feb. 23 meeting were club president Ashley Palker of Medina, Ohio, class of 2005; Steve Muller of Brunswick, Ohio, class of 2005; and Clint Pergram of Columbus, Ohio, class of 2006. These students had the chance to ask questions of Jim Oelschlager at the meeting and also interacted with the other schools to share stock tips and view each others displays.
“Our annual meeting allows club members to see the impact of each investment decision they make,” Palker said. “One decision can make or break the team for the year. This year, we went in thinking we hadn’t done that well, but thankfully we did better than the other teams in the competition.”
From that original $50,000 grant, Wittenberg’s Investment Club has built its portfolio to more than $65,000, according to Lowell Stockstill, professor of management and the club’s adviser. Any winnings received each year go back into the portfolio, minus a 5 percent cut for the university, per Oak Associates’ game rules.
Each year, that 5 percent goes to physical improvements around Carnegie Hall. So far the club has purchased a conference table, chairs and a display board, and it has funded the Wittenberg Investment Club library, which gives students a place to relax or study between classes in Carnegie Hall.
“One key to the students’ success is their consistency,” Stockstill said. “Although they manage the portfolio for growth, they also keep in mind that it is a legacy for future Wittenberg students as well.
“The club has adopted a ‘for the students, by the students’ approach, which has resulted in upgraded facilities for management students. I was especially proud of the students’ decision to make a contribution to tsunami relief efforts.”
Members of the Wittenberg Investment Club in 2004 included Palker, Muller, Pergram, Jim Kuklewski of Grand Rapids, Mich., class of 2004, and Jonathan Stewart of Vincennes, Ind., class of 2006. Kuklewski was the organization’s president in 2004, Palker served as vice president, and Muller was the secretary.
Palker said the club’s membership has grown slightly in 2005, and she welcomes any other interested students. Regular meetings are scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesdays in 314 Carnegie Hall.
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