William Blair was the lead sponsor of the 2016 Alpha Challenge, a stock-picking competition for American MBA students, which took place at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on November 17 and 18.
The Alpha Challenge provides a dynamic learning experience for the top MBA students across the country. Teams of three MBA students per school are selected by competitions at their home campuses. In the Alpha Challenge, the team presents its analysis of three stock picks to panels of industry judges representing hedge fund managers, institutional portfolio managers, and buy-side analysts. This year, 48 MBA students from 16 schools competed, pitching two stock plays, one long and one short, from a list of 250 securities presented to students two weeks before the competition. In addition, each team had to defend one “wildcard” company of its choice. Winning teams receive a cash award.
The team from McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin won with its case to purchase Casey’s General Stores, Inc. (CASY)*, a chain of Midwestern U.S. convenience stores. Yale School of Management was second with its case to short Blue Buffalo Pet Products (BUFF)*, a purveyor of healthy products for pets. Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University was third with its case to purchase SBA Communications Corporation (SBA)*, which owns and operates wireless infrastructure.
Jim Jones, a William Blair partner and equity research analyst, co-founded the Alpha Challenge when he was an MBA student at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School 11 years ago and he remains involved in organizing the competition.
“It’s a great way to reach the best MBA students in the country who are entering the asset management industry,” said Jones, who interviewed students for the firm’s summer internship program while attending the annual event.
The event included a keynote address by Michelle Seitz, head of William Blair Investment Management, on current investment trends in asset management. This year’s judges included William Blair’s Alaina Anderson, Michael Balkin, Karl Brewer, Dan Crowe, Mark Lane, and Ward Sexton.
*Not intended as investment advice or a recommendation to purchase or sell any security.