URI’s Amateur Stock Analysts Impress Pros

What if you worked for a major investment house and learned of 11 amateur financial analysts who developed a portfolio that outperformed Standard & Poor’s 500 and two other S&P indices?

At a minimum, you’d want to interview them, but you’d be smart to make them part of your team.

Ram Fund Team Members
Florian Behrmann, Hamburg, Germany
Benjamin Cheney, Newton, Mass.
Kevin Flynn, Johnston, R.I.
Michael Holden, Winthrop, Mass.
Yihe Luo, East Providence, R.I.
Will Martel, Fairhaven, N.J.
Eric Mundorf, South Kingstown, R.I.
Erin Murphy, Portland, Conn.
Derek Olson, Coventry, R.I.
Zachary Pierce, North Kingstown, R.I.
Ryan Ransford, Portland, Conn.

The 11 analysts are actually seniors in URI’s College of Business Administration who participated in the Ram Fund during the fall semester. Established in the spring of 2001 with $100,000 in seed money from the Alumni Association, the Ram Fund gives advanced business students the opportunity to invest and manage money for the long term.

When the 11 members of the class presented the results of their work in December, members of the Alumni Association Executive Board and professionals from Fidelity Investments, Washington Trust Bank, Bank of America, and Goldman Sachs were all smiles as they learned that the portfolio was valued at $169,979. The fund holds shares in 21 companies.

Samuel Cox, an equity research analyst at Fidelity Investments, said the level of detail in the group’s research was impressive, especially its completion of discounted cash flow analysis on each stock. Andrew Macken, vice president and regional director of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, added similar praise.

Finance Professor Peter DaDalt, who runs the Ram Fund class, said this is the first time the entire class had to complete discounted cash flow analyses: “Two years ago, only one student could complete this type of analysis; now this entire group can.”

Taking Stock: Senior finance majors Will Martel, a member of the Rams’ basketball team, Erin Murphy, and Kevin Flynn put their heads together over the Ram Fund.

“This program opens doors and leads to careers,” said former finance major Joseph M. Confessore ’96, vice president and team leader of commercial lending at Washington Trust’s Warwick office and president-elect of the Alumni Association.

Former Ram Fund member Nicholas Storti ’09, an associate underwriter for Bank of America, commented that: “The most important things I got out of participating in the Ram Fund were the team aspect of the class and the end-to-end credit process. To have to justify your decisions in front of your peers was a great learning experience. You have to pay attention to very small but important details. This is essential for a college that wants to attract top students who then graduate and land great jobs in the financial services industry.”

Current Ram Fund members echo what Storti said. Erin Murphy, a senior finance major, was the only woman on the team last semester: “I am soft spoken and tiny, so Professor DaDalt said I needed to speak up more. This was one of the best experiences of my time at URI because it was like an internship.”

Kevin Flynn, a senior accounting major, commented that Murphy’s work didn’t need much criticism: “Plus she was a lot nicer to us when she critiqued our work.” Flynn added that working on the Ram Fund was like working on a real investment team. “By talking in class, we became really close; we became comfortable learning from each other.”

Senior finance major Will Martel, a member of the Rams’ basketball team, said class presentations prepared him well for the formal presentation to financial professionals: “I knew I would be presenting to very bright students in class. Before the formal event, I took a look at my fellow students’ résumés, and I realized my experience was nothing like theirs. I feel honored to be in a class with some of the smartest students in the college.”

By Dave LaVallee ’79, M.P.A. ’87