The UAHuntsville Capital Management Group (CMG) was formed in March 1998 when the Tennessee Valley Authority launched the TVA Investment Challenge Program (ICP). The program started with 19 public universities, each responsible for managing $100,000. The CMG first organized itself as a club open to any student at the university. Over 60 students signed up, with a core group of about ten students attending the weekly meetings. The students varied in their experience and knowledge of investing so our methodology was largely an exercise in stock- picking.
We quickly discovered that there is fair amount of work involved in researching stocks and managing a real portfolio. So, from the fall of 1999 to the spring of 2003 we made participation in the CMG a one hour internship. This provided more accountability from the students, but also allowed them an opportunity to get academic credit for their work. Over that time, many changes took place in how the CMG carried out its business and made its investments. The important changes were with respect to the group’s methodology. A greater level of sophistication was being introduced and the groundwork for our current methodology was laid and refined. Our performance was still up and down, but we were developing a much more disciplined approach.
In January 2003, TVA expanded the program by adding six new schools. The decision was a direct result of the past success of the ICP, whose results have compared favorably with those of TVA’s professionally managed portfolios. That put TVA’s commitment to the program at over $10.1 million, with each of the universities now managing an equity portfolio over $500,000.
In the Spring 2004 semester the CMG was converted to a three hour course meeting in the spring semester twice a week for about an hour and a half. In addition, FIN 361 (Investments) was made a prerequisite for the course. These were helpful changes. We are now able to cover the material more thoroughly, and the quality of the students’ analyses is much improved.
All the changes seemed to culminate in 2005. The CMG’s return in 2005 was the second best among all 25 schools participating in the TVA Investment Challenge. The CMG turned in an impressive 16.54 percent. Turns out the group also had the third best performance over the three year period from 2003 to 2005. Its total three year return was 82.89 percent. During the 2006 Honors Day ceremony, the CMG accepted a check from the TVA for a total of $20,000 in prize money.
The faculty agreed that the best use of the money was to start another student-managed investment fund. So, beginning with the Spring 2007 semester, the CMG became responsible for the management of not only the TVA Investment Challenge fund, but also the newly formed “Charger Fund.” In order to broaden the scope of the CMG experience, it was decided that the Charger Fund should have a different focus. It was decided to make the Charger Fund an international investment fund. Specifically, its objective is to achieve long-term capital growth by investing exclusively in marketable securities representing equity investments in international companies. In terms of the actual class, adding an international component has complimented the current operation of the TVA fund nicely. And even though the TVA fund does not require global investment, we now have an additional student analyst to provide such expertise if the group decides to include international stocks in the TVA holdings.