Joseph Begg ’21
On March 28, members of Holy Cross Student Investment Fund (formerly HC Capital) traveled to the Isenberg School of Business Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for a Stock Pitch Competition. Holy Cross won first place over Harvard, Yale, MIT, Columbia, Georgetown, Northeastern, Penn State, UConn, Rutgers, and UMass. Being a newer club on campus, this was HCSIF first competition experience, so there was a lot of pressure for the group to do well.
Despite the high level of competition, Hayden Ivatts ’21, says the group wasn’t sure who they’d be up against. “Back in February we heard that we were gonna be doing stock competitions this semester, but we didn’t know how serious it was. We didn’t get the full list of contestants until two weeks beforehand.”
Each team chose a particular stock to pitch to a panel of investors; Holy Cross pitched a buy on CVS based on its recent merger with Insurance company Aetna. The team sent Jack Boyd ’21, Hayden Ivatts ’21, Hannah Callaghan ’20, and Jack McConnville ’20 to make their pitch.
“My job was to look at the business model and break down specifically in each sector exactly where the money comes from, and exactly how that business is gonna improve, and how the Aetna merger is going to help them sustain their business by increasing their market share,” said Ivatts. “Hannah was responsible for the company overview, and presented research on CVS’s competitors, Jack advocated for CVS based on their merger with Aetna, and Boyd did the valuation.”
Babson College also pitched CVS but went in a decidedly different direction, said Boyd, who jokingly referred to himself as the groups “quant,” referring to quantitative analysis. “When we opened up the pitch book, we were relieved in a sense. Though they also advocated a buy on CVS, it was for completely different reasons, and we believed our reasoning was very strong,” he said.
Holy Cross, as a liberal arts school, might not be the place one thinks of when imagining an elite New England stock competition, and might have been at a disadvantage to the Finance Majors in the room. Though Holy Cross doesn’t offer a Finance major, someone eyeing the Finance industry might consider Computer Science, Spanish, Philosophy, or History; the majors of the group representing Holy Cross.
“Finance majors learn a very specific way to do things, and I think the fact that Holy Cross lets us be separate from that allows us to discover things that I don’t think are possible in other programs. It definitely set us apart from the other schools,” said Ivatts. “Everything we said had evidence to back it up and worked together. We had the best flow and explanation, it was more than some numbers on a page.”
One thing the judges kept repeating when describing the team was that “they told the best story.” In an evolving professional world, Holy Cross students find that being well-rounded is of great benefit. “I genuinely think that in this competition it was one of the things that benefitted us,” Ivatts said. “While our majors weren’t specific to the company we were following, we had specialties in our training that really came together as part of a team.”
“I think most people in the room thought MIT was gonna win,” Ivatts admitted. “They had a great presentation style on obscure material.”
Boyd agreed, sharing: “These clubs at Harvard and MIT have been in existence for years, and enjoy a lot more resources, so it was validating to beat them at our first competition.”
However, when MIT was called for 2nd place, Ivatts says he gave up all hope for a medal. After being called up to accept their $3,000 check (which they donated back into HCSIF) the team was in utter disbelief. “I couldn’t believe it,” said Ivatts. “I was in shock, and it looked like some of the other kids there were in disbelief too.”
Boyd shared that disbelief, saying “All I remember is wanting to take the check before they realized they made a mistake!”
After a successful year, HCSIF is planning on taking part in more opportunities for competition in the future. They will next be accepting applications in the fall.
Photo courtesy of Holy Cross Capital