Helped by strong performance from a variety of portfolio holdings, the Blue Blazers Investment Committee at Westminster College reached a milestone in the organization’s history, crossing the $600,000 threshold.
“It seems like it was just yesterday when the group topped $500,000 and that was a major milestone at the time,” says Blake Stonecipher, ’16, former president of the organization. “The Blue Blazers have continued to add students who remain engaged and up-to-date with market news and trends. I still utilize investing ideas and strategies today that we developed at our weekend meetings as well as insights gained on our New York trip. I’m confident the Blazers can continue to build on this momentum.”
The investment group currently holds 49 positions in its portfolio with 42 positive returns and 7 negative returns.
Strong performances from Apple and the announced cash buyout of PNRA (Panera) in its portfolio helped the Blue Blazers hit this new high.
“We are very lucky to have an academic institution that has provided us with the tools to apply what we learn in the classroom,” says Yunus Yenikalayci, ’18, from Las Vegas, NV, who is President of the organization. “The recently announced buyout of PNRA brought us to this critical milestone. We are fortunate to be at this point and hope to continue to serve our mission—that is capital appreciation. With a significant amount of cash on hand, we continue to seek opportunities that would facilitate the growth of our portfolio for the rest of 2017.”
Established in 1996, 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. Advisor to the group is Dr. Edward Mirielli, Chair of the Computer Science Department, with the assistance of Brock Ayers, founder and mentor of the group. The group has received both state and national media attention.
The Westminster Board of Trustees made the Blue Blazers possible by originally allocating $200,000 in college endowment funds for the Blazers to invest in the stock market. The students do extensive research and then buy and sell stock to build and manage an actual investment portfolio. Free to buy and sell stocks and other options, the group is self-governing and enjoys great autonomy over investment decisions. Through this experience, they receive the rare opportunity while still in college to experience how investing in the stock market works firsthand.
Bill Bennett, ’62, Lifetime Westminster Trustee from Kirkwood, MO, served on the adhoc committee of the Board of Trustees designated to review investment opportunities for the College when the concept of the Blue Blazers was presented.
“Brock brought the idea of the Blue Blazers to us and we liked it,” Bennett recalls. “At that time, several colleges were doing a ‘virtual’ student investment club but we decided to give actual cash to the Blue Blazers, knowing Brock as a solid investment professional and that the club would have a faculty sponsor. The results speak for themselves…it has not only been good for the students but also good for the college. Many of its members have gone on to successful careers in the investment profession.”
The Blue Blazers are required to report to the Board of Trustees annually to inform them about developments in the group and the portfolio.
In addition to the investment experience gained, members regularly receive extensive support from Westminster alumni when seeking jobs and internships. For example, one of the group’s members will intern at Wells Fargo in St. Louis, MO with Ayers this summer and several others are seeking investment internships.
Some of the profits from successful investment years and alumni donations have made it possible for committee members to visit major financial investments centers on Wall Street in New York City eight times and participate in a variety of other trips, conferences and annual meetings.
The student leadership of the group is currently exploring the possibility of some members attending the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in Omaha held in early May.
The Blue Blazer Investment Committee is one of over 50 clubs and organizations on the Westminster campus. For more information, visit http://www.westminster-mo.edu/groups/sites/blueblazers/.