Once, twice, three times a finalist: Farmer School team again places second at Engage 2018 competition

October 2018

Jay Murdock

While many Miami students left town for a quick mid-term break, a team of Farmer School students spent fall break competing with other schools in the 2018 ENGAGE Undergraduate Investment Conference stock pitch competition. This year’s team was only the third Farmer School team to ever make the finals, and the third to come in second.

“Amazing. Really thrilled that they were able to do what they did,” Dr. David Shrider said. “To not only make the finals but come in second is an amazing feat.”

The team, Farmer’s Five Forces, was up against 29 other teams in the competition, which involved researching a stock, determining whether to take a short or long position on it, then explaining and defending that decision to a panel of judges.

Joe Braun, Tori Lineweaver, Garret Markey, Noah Slade, and Jake White comprised the presentation team, while Justin Campana, Brenna Driver, Evan Jones, Rich Michalik, Ethan Retcher, and Ki Sakuma were the research team.

Farmer’s Five Forces’ presentation team previously was the top undergraduate team in the world at the Global Case Competition at Harvard in the spring. In Ann Arbor, Lineweaver replaced Morgan Rice, who graduated in May.

The team chose to focus on Boot Barn, which their research indicated was vulnerable if there was a downturn in the oil industry. “One of our major catalysts was dependent on the output of oil in the Permian and Eagle Ford basins staying stagnant or decreasing in the next year, which would lead to fewer workers on oil rigs and in turn decreased revenues for BootBarn,” Markey, a junior finance and business analytics major explained. “We confirmed this outlook with multiple oil and gas analysts, however, one of the six judges felt strongly that this view was flawed, and that output would continue to increase. That same judge did, however, recognize that our other two catalysts were viable and would lead to a decrease in stock price.”

“We were disappointed to miss out so narrowly on the main prize and recognition that comes with first place, but felt that we performed to the best of our abilities and can be satisfied with that regardless,” Slade, a senior finance major, noted.

One thing that was a big help to the team was the existing years-long partnership between the Farmer School and the Cleveland Research Company, which sponsors the Farmer School stock pitch competition each spring. Two members of the previous second-place Farmer teams, Vince Ciepiel and Jim Braun, now work at CRC.

The team traveled to Cleveland on the way to Ann Arbor to practice their pitch and get feedback. “After working with CRC on the cadence and flow of the pitch, we felt that we really hit our stride going into the competition,” Slade recalled.

"They have always been a huge supporter of helping our students get an opportunity to try this very real-world experience in a practice setting," Shrider said. "They've been a really great resource to help us get our teams ready for the national competition."

Farmer Five Forces team photo Farmer Five Forces team making their presentation