The W places first in TVA Investment Challenge
The power of teamwork has paid off again for the Mississippi University for Women Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Investment Club.
On April 17-18, 2023, in Nashville, Tennessee, The W’s Club finished first in the annual competition for the 2022 calendar year. It is the fourth time in school history that The W has won the event, and third time it has accomplished the feat with Dr. Andrew Luccasen as adviser.
“I am very proud of these students because The W does not have a finance major, and we have only one finance class that is required for business majors,” said Luccasen, who is a professor of economics and finance in The W’s Department of Business. “Our students compete with finance majors from the University of Kentucky, Vanderbilt University, the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State.”
In all, The TVA sponsors 25 schools and gives students opportunities to manage investments on behalf of the TVA. Each school has a portfolio of about $500,000 to manage, and students decide which companies (stocks) to invest with. Schools compete each year to see which club can earn the most on their investments.
The W Club finished first thanks to an investment strategy that enabled it to do more than 10% better than the S&P 500 Index.
“I am thrilled our team finished first in the TVA Investment Challenge,” said Seth Harris, who is president of The W’s Club team. “It was a team accomplishment. Our philosophy from the beginning was to invest in companies with high dividends and low debt. Dr. Luccasen advised companies to research, but a majority vote decided the final decision on how to invest.”
Other students of the team are Mary Stone, vice president, Hanna Holsonback and Miguel Hernandez.
Harris graduated from Heritage Academy in Columbus in 2020. He is a junior at The W and is majoring in business administration with a focus in management information systems. He will graduate in May 2024. Harris said he decided to join The W’s TVA Investment Club because it was a unique opportunity to invest real money with real consequences.
Stone, a junior from Columbus who was homeschooled, said the team knew it had placed in the top three prior to the annual conference. She said it was “surreal” seeing all of the group’s hard work pay off.
“Our team has students with different majors; none of us are finance experts, just students who wanted to learn more about investing,” said Stone, who is the only team member to have had a class in finance. She is majoring in accounting and is minoring in management information systems. She will graduate next spring. “The TVA Investment Challenge gave us a fantastic opportunity to do just that.”
Stone said the team had a “simple” investment philosophy of going with companies with low debt and a high dividend yield and that Luccasen made the intimidating task of investing such a large amount of money relatively simple and easy.
“I think our investment philosophy is why we saw such a significant excess return compared to the other schools,” Stone said. “Working alongside my fellow team members and Dr. Luccasen has been very rewarding, and I am proud to be a part of this team.”
In 1998, TVA created the Investment Challenge by allocating $1.9 million to 19 universities to manage in investment portfolios. TVA added six schools to the program in 2003 and increased the portfolio amount. A TVA asset retirement trust fund provided the original $1.9 million for the program and the additional $8 million to expand it.
Students manage TVA funds by designing long-term investment strategies, placing trades and providing performance reports to TVA. Investment guidelines are similar to those used by TVA’s professional investment managers. Universities can earn performance awards based on their returns versus the benchmark S&P 500 index.
TVA financial managers and analysts provide guidance and resources to help students apply investment management concepts.
The W Investment Club is open to all interested students. For more information, contact Luccasen at firstname.lastname@example.org.