Boise Center MBA students win contest

Award-winning Boise MBA students (from left to right) Chuck Harris, Stephanie Slawson, Emily Peterson, and Roger Aguilar (not pictured: Mike Snaadt)A team of George Fox University Boise Center MBA students claimed the top prize in the local level of a national contest that challenged student financial analysts to research and provide business recommendations regarding a local company.

Three teams representing Treasure Valley institutions took part in the Idaho Financial Analyst Investment Research Challenge, part of a national contest sponsored by the CFA Institute of Charlottesville, Va.

In the end, the George Fox contingent of Roger Aguilar, Chuck Harris, Emily Peterson, Stephanie Slawson and Mike Snaadt won because their presentation “was more thorough, and it passed the weight test,” according to Peter J. Butler, president of the CFA Society of Idaho and director of valuation at Hooper Cornell certified public accountants in Boise.

The contest began a month ago when the three teams – representing George Fox, Boise State University and Northwest Nazarene – began poring over financial statements and talking to company executives of computer-chip maker Micron Technology. They then presented the results of their research and made a recommendation on Micron’s stock to a panel of chartered financial analysts in Boise.

The George Fox team came up with a higher one-year price target for Micron stock than either of the other two teams, and they were the only team that didn’t rate the company’s stock a buy. The students projected a one-year target price of $5.41, nearly 70 percent more than the March 4 closing price of $3.20.

They recommended the company stock as a "hold." They lauded Micron's cost-cutting measures and were optimistic about potential sales growth, but said the industry has long had poor returns on assets and equity. “We see continued losses for the next three years, but the company will continue to generate cash,” Slawson said in the report.

This marked the first year Idaho teams have competed in the Idaho Financial Analyst Investment Research Challenge, a contest that gives students important insight and experience, according to Lisa Leff, vice president of Trillium Asset Management in Boise.

“Investment decisions are made using this kind of analysis,” she told the Idaho Statesman. “If you're going to do anything in business or finance, it is important to know how these recommendations are made.”

With the local victory, the team will travel to New York City on March 18-19 for the regional contest. Teams that win at the regional level advance to the global finals in London, England, April 2.

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