CFA Investment Research Challenge

A team of UNYP Business Administration students were victorious in the Czech Republic round of the CFA Institute Investment Research Challenge competition on January 31, 2013. The students on the team were Jiří Sýkora (American BS), Anna Richtrová (European BBA), Petr Rieger American BS), Martin Konop (American BS) and Radek Musil (European BBA). The official announcement will be made during the CFA Society Forecasting Dinner 2013, held under the auspices of Czech National Bank Governor  Miroslav Singer, on 28th February at the Congress Center of CNB.

We are pleased to publish their story, written by the team-members themselves.   

When we decided to participate in the 2013 CFA Research Challenge competition, we did not expect that a few UNYP students – none who have yet completed their bachelor’s degrees – would eventually defeat other teams consisting of students of Master’s degree programs from the very best Czech universities all across the country. The dream came true on January 31, 2013, when our team was announced as the winners of the national round of the competition. Looking back, it was a long and complicated journey. However, we gained invaluable experience, a little deeper understanding of the exciting and challenging world of finance, and the opportunity to represent the Czech Republic at the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) regional round in London.

Our goal was to produce an equity research report about an antivirus company called AVG Technologies, and subsequently to present our results to a panel of judges made up of industry professionals. Immediately after the start of the competition, we began to realize how complex such equity research truly is. We were suddenly surrounded by countless pages of financial statements, investment research reports, and often contradictory opinions about the state of the antivirus industry. Additionally, none of us at that time had any experience with the financial modelling necessary for forecasting the future value of the company. However, with the help of our faculty advisor, Tanweer Ali, and our assigned mentor, Karel Tregler from Generali PPF, it all slowly started to make sense.

Contrary to what most students think, mathematics is not the most difficult aspect of financial modelling. Deep down, every formula in our valuation model tells a story, but it was up to us to make sure these stories fit together and reflect the reality. This required not only an understanding of AVG’s financials, but also of its long-term strategy, and the main industry trends. We got a chance to validate these assumptions and learn detailed information about AVG by talking to its CFO, Mr. John Little. By the end of this process, we were able to produce a complete equity research report and start preparing to presenting our findings.

The deadline for submitting our report was December 21, 2012 and the presentation was held at the very end of January 2013. Since the stock price of AVG Technologies has naturally changed since December, our recommendation might have been different at the time we presented our findings. Although there were eight universities at the beginning of the competition, only six of them made it to the presentations, as two universities did not submit their reports at all. The presentations started at 6pm and we were the last team to present.

It was around 9pm when the results were ready and we could celebrate our victory. The runner-up was the team from the University of Economics, Prague, and the third place went to the Institute of Economic Studies at Charles University.

On April tenth we will present our findings in London at the EMEA regional round. Since the target company stays the same, we cannot change our report - we can only alter the design of our presentation. We will compete against 24 other universities from countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, Kenya, Bahrain, and many others. In fact, we will first compete against six universities in the semi-final (4 groups, 6 universities in each group). If we succeed, we will advance to the finals of the EMEA round (April 11) where the best 4 universities will compete against each other. The regional winner advances to the global round, which will take place immediately on April 12 in London, so it will be all very quick. Last year, the global winner was a team from the Thammasat University inThailand. Keep your fingers crossed for us, and never say never!

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