Above, the 2014 Blue Blazers trip to New York City.
The research inspired insight of the Blue Blazers Investment Committee (BBIC), Westminster College’s unique student investment group, to get in on the ground floor with Alibaba stock and other recent, wise investments has now elevated their stock portfolio to a record half million dollars.
The BBIC stock portfolio has achieved an 8.02% rate of return, since its inception in 1996, which compares favorably with equity returns from the Dow Jones Industrial Average ( 5.72%), NASDAQ Composite (7.42%) and S&P 500 (5.82%) over the same period. Their account currently consists of 44 equity positions.
The newest addition is Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant that just started selling public stock today, after much fanfare and anticipation.
The BBIC had been studying Alibaba since last spring and decided to seek ownership in the newly public shares of Alibaba on its internal public offering (IPO). In addition, they established a position last spring in Yahoo, a major holder of Alibaba (BABA/ NYSE) shares.
On Friday, Sept. 19, the group obtained 50 shares at the IPO price of $68 a share before the company’s stock opened for public trading. This is the second IPO they have participated in during their 18-year history.
“I have seen our portfolio grow from $350,000 to this $500,000 milestone mark since I first became involved with the Blue Blazer Investment Committee in the spring of 2012,” says Will Megl, a senior economic and math major from Elsberry, Mo who is Chief Executive Officer of the BBIC. “Our committee is currently comprised of over 40 student analysts that aid in the management of our portfolio on a week-to-week basis.”
Some of BBIC’s acquisitions include stock in Disney, Panera, Starbucks, Under Armour, Apple, Qualcomm, GE and Google.
The BBIC account is part of the Westminster Endowment, and was seeded with $200,000 in 1996 by the Westminster Board of Trustees, to facilitate student learning about investing in the stock market firsthand and has now leveraged that initial investment into over half a million dollars.
The group’s investments have made it possible for them to finance seven trips over the years for its members to tour the financial markets in New York City, providing them with valuable network opportunities and preparing them for future careers.
For example, some of last year’s graduating class who were members of the BBIC are now enjoying successful careers with organizations such as Edward Jones and Wells Fargo Advisors in St. Louis and Cerner Corporation, Ernst and Young and the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City.
In addition, money has been available to use for the students to attend professional meetings and conferences.
Brock Ayers, Class of ’82, a Financial Advisor and First Vice-President at Wells Fargo Advisors and a member of the Westminster College Board of Trustees, is the founder of the BBIC and mentor to the group. Dr. Edward Mirielli, Chair of the Westminster Computer Science Department, is the advisor of the group with the assistance of Wells Fargo Advisors. Dr. Mirielli and Ayers have planned all seven New York trips together.
“It is hard to believe this was started almost 20 years ago and now over 700 students have participated, with over 130 going on one of the seven New York trips,” says Ayers. “The opportunity to learn by doing and to have the responsibility and challenges of managing a portfolio is significant.”
The Blue Blazers Investment Committee is a selective, student-maintained investment committee that encourages intellectual growth and educates undergraduates on the use of investment vehicles in capital markets.
The students do extensive research and then buy and sell equities to build and manage an actual investment portfolio. The group is self-governing and enjoys great autonomy over investment decisions. They are free to buy and sell stocks and other options. Through this experience, they receive the rare opportunity to experience how investing in the stock market works firsthand.
“The surge of interest centered on our participation in an IPO and reaching a new ‘high’ is very exciting,” says Dr. Mirielli. “My role as advisor is one mainly of administrative work and coordination. I do not have a direct hand in the BBIC’s process. The success of the investment committee has and will continue to rest in the hands of the students who take their participation seriously while learning about investing through experience and fundamental strategies.”
To learn more about Blue Blazers, click here.