By Steve Vivona
Last fall a number of St. John’s University students from The
Peter J. Tobin College of Business entered the Barron’s Challenge,
a competition requiring participants to establish a hypothetical
portfolio and invest a theoretical $100,000 in various stocks. St.
John’s graduate student Marvin Gagliardotto of Alexandra Investment
Management in New York, placed seventh in the overall
Contestants were allowed to make as many as 50 trades, including
those used to set up the initial portfolio. The minimum investment
for any one holding was $5,000 and the maximum was $10,000. Mr.
Gagliardotto entered the competition as a required part of his
Asset Management class, taught by Professor K. Thomas Liaw,
Chairman and Professor of Economics and Finance in The Tobin
College of Business.
“The most important (educational) aspect of the contest is
getting students interested in the stock market,” Dr. Liaw
observed. “It’s very important for (students) to know what kinds of
stocks are traded in the marketplace.”
Mr. Gagliardotto noted that one of the contest’s most
challenging aspects was the relatively short time frame allowed for
trading (October 1-December 15). “This was a challenge because your
rating is solely based on your performance and your investment
rationale must change to adapt to this short period.”
He stressed that given his “short-term” rationale he changed to
a more “market psychology,” choosing firms who were in the news
during that period, such as Marsh and McLennon (MMC), AIG, Chiron
Group (CHIR) and Sirius Satellite (SIRI).
“By relying more on current events than fundamentals,” Mr.
Gagliardotto observed, “I was able to realize quick profits by
shorting MMC and AIG (due to the probe started by the Attorney
General), and CHIR (which announced it could not meet the demand
for the flu season), and make huge gains on SIRI by news which
affected its stock price (through market perception) of them
signing Howard Stern, appointing a new CEO and his purchase of
1.5mm shares.” He added that another important approach was
diversification of his portfolio with a concentration in tech
Mr. Gagliardotto has been working in the industry since the age
of 23 and has been trading since he was 18. “I’ve learned plenty of
lessons since then with the bursting of the internet bubble, the
recession of 2001 and today’s market climate, where we’ve seen oil
sky rocket to $55 per barrel.” He added that, as a professional, “I
have learned many lessons on trading, market psychology and
strategies on how to realize gains,” which all contributed to his
success in the competition.
More information about the Peter J. Tobin College of