Stock picking is not easy, despite what the Standard & Poor’s 500 index’s nearly 30 percent return in 2013 might suggest.

St. Thomas students’ portfolio management skill is on full display this week, with results from the All-America Student Analyst Competition held by Institutional Investor, the nation’s go-to source for analyst rankings, naming five top performers from the Opus College of Business.

More than 2,100 students from 81 schools participated in the second annual competition which pitted undergraduate and graduate students from all over the U.S. against one another using a professional-style trading engine. The University of St. Thomas ranked second by placing five students in the top 100.

Michael F. Sullivan, Ph.D., associate professor of finance had ten students in his graduate-level fall investments class that participated in the competition—four placed in the top 100. These students were Adam Lawrence (43), Sean Higgins (44), Andrew Headding (47) and Anthony Anderson (67). Dr. Sergey S. Barabonov also had an undergraduate student, Sean Griffin (86), make the list. In addition, Anderson placed third in the capital goods/industrials sector competition and JD/MBA student Jonathan Sprain placed second in the energy sector competition.

Trades were managed in Alphaseal, a software platform developed by Stamford, Connecticut–based Mark My Media. Competition details were published by Institutional Investor:

Students were each given $100,000 in virtual money and directed to follow Regulation T, the Federal Reserve Board rule designating a 50 percent margin requirement on initial stock purchases; failure to do so would, and did, lead to disqualification. In addition to the quantitative appraisal, the Alphaseal system allows portfolio managers to log entries into a trade blotter to flesh out their ideas. Trading began on September 3 and ran through January 31.

The Alphaseal platform measures the daily performance of participants’ portfolios, calculating six investment factors — net benchmark outperformance, volatility, balance sheet impact, net exposure impact, long alpha and short alpha — employing the Russell 3000 Index as its benchmark.

Barabanov told Institutional Investor he “has seen a shift among finance students over the past five years and is impressed with the level of sophistication in their investment approaches.” Barabanov has noticed his “students become more value-oriented, even spying them reading books by Benjamin Graham, the father of value investing.”

The University of St. Thomas ended up in a four-way tie for second with Baruch College/City University of New York; the University of California, Berkeley and Charlottesville’s University of Virginia. Fordham University topped the list with nine students in the top 100.

About Institutional Investor
Now in its fifth decade, Institutional Investor is among the world’s foremost financial publications, known for its well-respected analyst rankings and reaching a global audience of leading financiers, corporate executives, and government officials.

Storify has compiled all of the press coverage and tweets surrounding the 2014 competition at #iiTopStudents.