UT Dallas Online Stock Trading Competition Draws National Interest
Kenneth Moussavian (right), traveled with his father, Mansour, to UT Dallas to receive his second place award in the Top Trader competition. The prospect of attending the awards ceremony at the campus motivated the California teen.
For the fourth summer in a row, junior high and high school students from around the nation took part in Top Trader — an online stock trading competition sponsored by UT Dallas' Naveen Jindal School of Management (JSOM).
Participants from California and Illinois took the challenge to heart, earning seven of the 10 top spots in the two-month challenge.
Lynn Hankins, coordinator for Jindal School’s finance program, managed the competition this year. She said that each year since the Top Trader competition began in 2011, the contest has attracted more students from a growing number of states. This year about 100 students from 16 states executed trades on a regular basis between the first week in June and the first week in August.
And for the first time, out-of-state contestants traveled to UT Dallas to attend the banquet dinner.
Californian Kenneth Moussavian, a senior who founded the investment club at Los Altos High School, asked his parents in May — before the competition started — if he could attend the Top Trader awards ceremony in Texas. Hankins said Kenneth was told “only if you win.” Kenneth came in second; his parents agreed that was good enough to earn a trip to Dallas.
“It’s such a great opportunity for JSOM to get high school students enthused about learning how the stock market works and about financial literacy. And as is always the case with these sorts of competitions, really every participant is a winner.”
David Graham and Sean Baldwin, both seniors at Lake Zurich High School in Illinois, placed first and third, respectively. They also competed in the 2013 Top Trader competition.
In June, Top Trader contestants are given $1 million in virtual money along with access to a software platform that allows virtual trades. The contestants can also earn additional money for their final portfolios by completing educational videos. David’s portfolio was worth $1.37 million at the end of the competition, a 37 percent increase in value; Kenneth’s was worth $1.29 million; and Sean’s was worth $1.18 million. In that same time period, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index declined 1.5 percent.
“The strategy I took to achieve such a large increase in my portfolio was to short a lot of stocks this year,” David said. “Another strategy was to play a lot of the earnings calls. … I would research all of the companies that would report on a specific day and choose the one I thought would do best.”
Good stocks for him this past summer included Chipotle, Skechers and Restoration Hardware. Not so good, he said, were Denny’s, Yum Brands and Oracle.
For their acumen, the three received $1,000, $800 and $600 in prize money, respectively. The remaining top 10 winners received an iPad mini.
“It’s such a great opportunity for JSOM to get high school students enthused about learning how the stock market works and about financial literacy,” Hankins says. “And as is always the case with these sorts of competitions, really every participant is a winner.”
This story was reported and written by freelance contributor Jeanne Spreier.
Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].