By Suraj Sait
Stocks are fascinating forces of human innovation. Akin to Voldemort’s horcruxes, each stock represents a part, however small, of a publicly-traded company. I’m no Harry Potter, but I’ve always had an interest in them.
So when I received the opportunity to pitch one of these so-called horcruxes, I jumped at the chance. With my close friend Brant Wei, the salutatorian of the EGHS Class of 2020, we embarked on a different kind of journey. Neither of us had ever pitched a stock before, much less in front of judges who worked in the financial services industry. But the thought of doing nothing during quarantine was worse – so we decided to try.
Beginning with the Rhode Island Stock Pitch Competition, Brant and I prepared a detailed report on Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc., a company that manufactures supplies for pharmaceutical companies. We researched financial metrics like free cash flow yield, debt-to-equity, and current ratio. If you don’t work in the financial services industry, you might think that those words are just a bunch of jargon. Brant and I initially felt the same way. But that’s the best part of these competitions: they give you a chance to learn more about what you don’t know.
After finishing our report, Brant and I put together a slide deck. Using principles taught to us by our friend Matt Tactacan – a veritable genius when it comes to graphic design – we put together seventeen slides jam-packed with relevant information.
Then it came time to pitch. Each team had 10 minutes to deliver their pitch, and then 5 minutes to defend it against questions from industry experts. When Brant and I delivered our pitch, it went smoothly. No hitches, and we were soon off to the East Coast Regional Stock Pitch Competition.
Regionals followed similarly. This time competing against state winners from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey, we delivered the same pitch and defended it against another slew of questions. Once again, Thermo Fisher pulled through.
At the Global Stock Pitch Competition, we faced an array of competitors from regions within the United States and countries around the world. I had never met somebody from Hong Kong, but through the event, I learned something about life there and how a person might think. We also heard a fascinating keynote speech from Paul Smith, the former president and CEO of the CFA Institute (CFA stands for Chartered Financial Analyst). During the talk, the judges deliberated – and once the dust settled, Thermo Fisher had come in third. Brant and I had made the podium!
As a reward for our efforts, we received $500 in cash and airpods. But the experience bespoke so much more than the prize. Both Brant and I want to pursue careers in business, so valuable exposure from this competition only deepened and bolstered our interests. Plus, we got an idea of how to value a company – something that’s commonly done in most investment banking careers.
Ultimately, we couldn’t have reached this point without help. We’d like to thank Mrs. Page, of East Greenwich High School, for establishing our financially literate foundations through her classes and also for the opportunities she’s provided us with; Marcy Reyes, of the Financial Literacy Youth Initiative, for her continual guidance, feedback, and encouragement that got us through this competition; and finally, all the professionals and judges at Young Investors Society that helped make this event possible. It was truly a great way to end our senior year.
Suraj Sait is a senior at EGHS for one more week. He has been a writer for EG News for the past year. You can read more about Sunny and Brant (valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, for the Class of 2020) HERE.
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