Investment Club Growing Membership and Portfolio

Over 40 students packed into the third floor classroom in BTC on Wednesday at 3 p.m. for the Investment Club’s meeting. Some students were dressed in professional attire, including full suits, which illustrated the business-like atmosphere.
“We’re trying to grow the club right now,” said club treasurer Alex Dennui. “We want to have an undeniable presence on campus.”
Leaders of the club are excited about their rapid growth in membership, as well as their success thus far in investing the $10,000 provided to them by the Hudson Valley Community College Foundation.
The club started last fall with a virtual portfolio, investing fake money. Their portfolio significantly outpaced major stock indexes, such as the S&P 500. That success led the college’s affiliated foundation to agree to let them start investing real money.
In the beginning of the spring 2014 semester, they started deliberating on what stocks to buy. At club meetings, members would pitch a stock and then the club researched it throughout the week. At the next meeting, a club vote determined whether or not a purchase would be made.
They began investing at a very tense time in the market. Since the financial collapse of 2007-2008, the market has consistently gone upward with the help of generous policy from the federal reserve. Many have suspected that there will be a downturn at some point soon when the federal reserve returns to a more normal monetary policy. So far, the market has continued to go up steadily this year.
Because there is real money on the line, the meetings have an intense feel. Professor Joseph Stenard, club advisor, said, “The level of intensity and participation is contagious and it’s unbelievable.”
Part of the meeting on Wednesday was a lecture by Stenard on a topic related to investing. He discussed how risk is reduced over the long term because the market tends to steadily increase over decades.
By learning more about the financial world, members of the club can make smart decisions on how to use their money. Josh Carroll, club president, said, “I want everyone to have a strong understanding of financial literacy.”
Carroll’s interest in investing began during his six years of service in the Army National Guard. “I started looking at [stocks] when I was deployed in 2012,” he said.
The rest of the executive board are equally as committed as Carroll is on learning how to invest wisely. Like Carroll, who majors in accounting, most are in a program that is connected to finance.
Brandon Combs, vice president of the club, is a business administration major. He works at The Ayco Company, which is a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs. He plans on going to UAlbany and continuing to be active in investing while pursuing his bachelor’s degree.
Nick Strom is the club’s director of research and analysis. His perspective is common among members on why he joined the club. “I wanted to know more. I know how much money you can make in this and for me it’s entertaining.
Strom pitched Greenbrier Companies to the club last spring, which turned into their most successful investment so far. Greenbrier manufactures products used in shipping and transportation. Their stock has more than doubled since the beginning of the year.
Strom said he spent months researching before pitching Greenbrier.
While most of their investments have been profitable since buying, there is one notable exception.
Since purchasing 3D Systems Corp, a 3D printing company, the stock has gone down nearly 30 percent. On Wednesday, the club discussed selling half of the shares that they had purchased to cut losses.
That mistake hasn’t turned their portfolio negative, however. Since beginning to invest real money, the club has profited at 10.96 percent. That is on track for a profit of nearly 20 percent over a year, which is considered a very strong return in the world of investing.
Other companies that they have invested in include CitiGroup, Monsanto, Target, Wells Fargo, and Wheeler Real Estate. $4,400 out of the $10,000 originally given to them is still uninvested.
They are focused on continuing to grow their membership and learning to make smarter investments.
Kerry Gneiting, who was elected as secretary on Wednesday, said, “I would just like to keep learning like the rest of the club. I hope the club can continue to grow.”

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