MSF team wins respected stock pitch competition

A team of three Master of Science in Finance students won the stock pitch competition at the ENGAGE® Undergraduate Investment Conference at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business from October 20-22. James Goyer, Kristen Mousa and Paul Stanley came out on top of a field of 27 teams, including many of the most respected business schools in the country. The win was also featured by Forbes.

The trio previously won competitions at the University of Georgia and Ohio State University, and they will travel to Harvard University in November to compete in another investment competition.

Goyer talked about the team’s experience in the competition and how their time at Warrington has prepared them for success.

Q: Who were some of the other top schools in attendance?

Goyer: “We faced some very strong competition, as there were 27 teams from across the nation who competed. Some of the schools included Notre Dame, University of Michigan, Emory, UC Berkeley, George Washington University, William and Mary, UT Austin, University of Virginia, Georgia Tech and NYU. It was very exciting to represent UF on this national stage, as many professors from these schools also traveled with their teams to the competition.”

Q: What was the team’s preparation like for the competition as you created your pitch on Seritage Growth Properties?

Goyer: “We prepared over five months for the competition. We originally found out about Seritage back in April and thought the company had an interesting story that complemented a compelling valuation. Over the summer, we gradually worked on the pitch when we had free time after our internships, and the more we researched the company, the more attractive it looked as a potential pitch. When we came back to Gainesville in August, we began to work 3-4 hours per day on the presentation and valuation model. We also presented our pitch to over 50 students and faculty members to gauge feedback on areas we could improve in. We felt very prepared by the time the competition took place in late October.”

Q: Walk me through some of your pitch on Seritage Growth Properties. What were some of the biggest challenges with it?

Goyer: “Seritage is a retail real estate investment trust (REIT) that was essentially spun off from the big retailer Sears. This initial spinoff took place in 2015 and was structured so that Sears would continue to occupy and lease the properties that Seritage now owned. The master lease agreement between Sears and Seritage allowed Seritage to extract an enormous amount of value from the properties over time. The market, however, wasn’t realizing this upside because of Seritage’s high exposure to Sears. We valued Seritage by analyzing over 260 lease agreements they had across their properties and compiling this into a valuation model. None of us had experience in valuing REITs so we actually purchased an online course to help us become more familiar with the topic. Learning about how to value a new industry in such a short amount of time was by far our biggest challenge.”

Q: Which hedge funds were represented by competition judges?

Goyer: “The judges came from a wide variety of backgrounds, including hedge funds and private equity. Some of the hedge funds represented included Bridgewater and Point72 while some of the private equity funds included Ares and Apollo Global Management. It was an amazing experience to present in front of some of the leading investment funds in the US.”

Q: What feedback did you receive from judges about your presentation?

Goyer: “We received very positive feedback from all of the judges, both in the semi-final and final round. One area that they suggested we could improve was in showing a more detailed example of one of the lease agreements that Seritage has structured with Sears.”