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UNLV Business Students Win International Finance Competition, Move on to Global Finals

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Student-led analysis of public company Kona Grill bests 350 teams from North, Central and South America; earns team trip to Global Final April 12.
Campus News  |  Apr 5, 2013  |  By Tony Allen
Media Contact: UNLV Office of Media Relations (702) 895-3102
Editor's Note: 

The team will hold a final practice event at 7:30 p.m., Monday, April 8 in the Frank and Estella Beam Hall, Room 241. Members of the media and public are invited.

LAS VEGAS - April 5, 2013 - A team of UNLV business students recently took first place in the CFA Institute Research Challenge Americas Final, an investment competition pitting 350 student teams from across North, Central and South America. The win comes on the heels of a victory in the Desert Classic regional in late February, and puts UNLV in the four-team CFA Global Final in London April 12.

The competition promotes ethics and best practices in equity research among the next generation of financial professionals. With the guidance of an investment management professional, students analyze a publicly traded company, write a professional research report, and present their research and recommendations to a high-profile expert panel. Points are awarded to teams on the basis of their investment case, their poise, and their ability to answer the judges' questions.

"As one of the most rigorous and competitive financial competitions in the world, UNLV has risen to the challenge of representing the high standards in equity research training and professional standards that CFA Institute upholds," said Stephen Horan, CFA's head of University Relations and Private Wealth in a release. "Rebuilding the integrity of financial markets starts with these future stars of the industry who, through their experience in this competition, have made a commitment to technical and ethical excellence to foster positive change in the profession."

UNLV team members include: Sean Skinner, Elias Shliyan, and Jeffery Zemp, all finance seniors; and Warren Stender, a recent management graduate. They conducted a financial analysis of the restaurant chain Kona Grill, developed a comprehensive equity research report, and presented to a panel of global financial experts their recommendations to buy, sell, or hold company shares. The team recommended buying the stock with the expectation that Kona will open new stores and increase same-store sales at existing restaurants.

Since last fall, the students have spent more than 200 hours sharpening their analytical, valuation, and presentation skills. They were mentored by Jagdish Mehta, CFA, visiting associate professor of finance in the Lee Business School, and Dominic Rodrigues, CFA, chief investment officer of Las Vegas-based Integress Financial.

Paul Thistle, chair of the business school's finance department, said the students mastered many skills that will benefit them in competition and the real world of finance.

"We're very proud of the UNLV team and appreciate the support of the CFA Society Nevada. Their accomplishments -- two years running -- underscore the quality of business education at UNLV," he said. "We think our students can compete with anybody."

This year, more than 3,500 university students from 775 universities in more than 55 countries participated in the CFA competition.