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University of Sydney triumphs in Asia Pacific finance competition

21 May 2019
Student team provides expert advice on Telstra stocks
The University of Sydney Business School has reinformed its reputation as a global centre of academic excellence with a winning position in the Asia Pacific finals of the prestigious Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) stock pitch competition.

The CFA competition, hosted by the University of Sydney, brought together 50 teams from across the region, all of which had won their local finals in the 12 months leading up to the Asia Pacific event.

Team members Bill Chan, Brendan Ma, Kenn Savvas, Nick Andrews and Wendy Yang were required to make a buy/sell recommendation for a listed company in a way that tested their analytical, valuation, report writing and presentation skills.

The undergraduate students, all studying Commerce/Law and majoring in Finance, decided to place a sell rating on telecommunications giant, Telstra.

"Analysing Telstra over 10 months of the entire competition allowed us to develop an intimate understanding of Australia’s fascinating telecommunications industry," said Bill Chan. "In addition, we honed our skills in financial analysis with mentoring from Vincent Ling, CFA of Intermediate Capital Group and faculty advisor Angelo Aspris."

"Although Telstra stock is trading at historical lows, we believe there is further room to fall given the major developments expected to play out within mobile and fixed broadband segments of the market," said Chan.

"For the Sydney local round, we produced a 30-page initiation report on Telstra. As a shortlisted team, we then did a 20 minute presentation covering our investment recommendations to a panel of four judges," he said.

Kenn Savvas, Brendan Ma, Wendy Yang, Bill Chan and Nick Andrews

Kenn Savvas, Brendan Ma, Wendy Yang, Bill Chan and Nick Andrews

The judges included Paul Smith, CFA President and CEO; Jan van der Schalk, Ausbil Equities Analyst; Crispin Murray, Head of Equities, Pendal, and Jelena Stefanovic, Portfolio Manager, Platypus.

The University of Sydney team won the local round with what the judges described as a "compelling presentation and detailed financial analysis" as well as a "unique under-the-bonnet analysis of Telstra."

At the Asia Pacific Regionals, Sydney won the heats round and was pitted in the final against teams from Peking University, Ateneo De Manila University, the Indian Institute of Management and the University of Western Australia.

Sydney ultimately finished in second place behind Ateneo De Manila University.

While not taking top position, team members agreed that they had "developed an understanding of how to find an informational edge and an ability to leverage underappreciated information in the assessment of a stock." These they described as "traits required of any skilled investor."

In congratulating the Sydney team, the Acting Dean, Professor Elizabeth Cowley, said the results demonstrated the value of the Business School's focus on experiential learning and industry engagement.