A team of Bachelor of Commerce finance students from the Sprott School of Business have won this year’s Van Berkom JMSB Small-Cap Case Competition, which took place over the weekend of March 29-30 at Concordia University in Montreal.
Marcus Sickert, Bryce Cameron, Steven Nader and Hala Saoudi – won the $3,000 cash prize for placing first out of nine teams of undergraduate and master’s students representing universities in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. This is the second big achievement for the team this year, after winning the TD Financial Group Case Competition a few weeks prior.
“It felt amazing to win the competition,” expressed Marcus. “The entire team dedicated countless Saturdays preparing, and it was extremely gratifying to have all our hard work pay off.”
The two-day competition features two live case rounds that focus on small cap investment. Students have three hours to analyze a financial business case, develop strategic recommendations to either hold or sell based on their assessment, and prepare a presentation. They then present their solution for 20 minutes in front of a panel of judges, who are some of the top investment people in Montreal, followed by a question and feedback period. The process is repeated on the second day, and the team with the highest score wins the competition. Over the past four years, Sprott students have won three times and earned silver in 2017.
“All of us had a specific role in the competition,” said Marcus. “Due to the short amount of time given to prepare for the presentation, it was essential that each of us were able to work independently on a certain task. Bryce was in charge of building out a two-stage Discounted Cash Flow valuation, as well as performing a financial statement analysis of the company. Hala was in charge of the PowerPoint presentation and the overall story alignment. Steven took care of the external analysis of the company, and I performed the internal analysis of the company. We were constantly feeding each other with ideas and providing thoughts and criticism to the strategic handling of the case.”
During the competition, the team went through a period of doubt and confusion, unsure of what the outcome would be.
“We had a set game plan of how to approach the case on day one of the competition, but upon hearing feedback from the judges regarding the first pitch, we decided to modify our approach,” said Marcus. “The changes we made resulted in some wasted time and confusion while cracking the case, however, the end result was a competition tailored pitch that led us to win first place.”
In addition to being Sprott Competes members, Marcus, Steven and Bryce are members of the Sprott Student Investment Fund (SSIF), a group of students who actively manage an equity portfolio valued at over $1 million.
“The SSIF helped me develop a variety of essential skills that were invaluable during the competition,” said Steven. “I learned how to better analyze an industry and its dynamics, assess a company and its competitive advantages, and create detailed financial models to value a company. I was also able to practice presenting and answering challenging questions relating to that presentation.”
“Having previous experience analyzing companies on the SSIF was critical to our success at the Van Berkom Case Competition,” said Marcus. “It enabled Bryce to be extremely proficient with building out financial models, which is key due to the short time frame of the case. Furthermore, the SSIF helped with Steve and I being able to quickly analyze company annual reports, as well as form opinions on the macro-economy overall.”
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