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Stetson University’s Roland George Investments Program held its 11th public trustee meeting, “Close to Home,” with some lively debates taking place Nov. 20 as 10 seniors pitched stocks they believed to be worthy of the program’s nearly $130,000 investment.

The night was kicked off by Luca Zambelli, RGIP student portfolio manager, who oversees approval for all presentations and trades, and is responsible for managing the trustee voting process.

Recognizing that Florida is a fast-growing market with a favorable tax environment for businesses, the meeting focused on stocks in the Florida tourism, energy and industrial/defense industries or companies with ties to Stetson University. The five stocks that were discussed were L3Harris Technologies, Marriott Vacations Worldwide, The Walt Disney Company, Spectrum Brands and TopBuild.

After months spent researching, vetting and analyzing, the stocks were presented to a crowd of approximately 150 attendees, who included a board composed of four student trustees and three faculty/public trustees. Various students debated whether particular stocks were good or bad choices for investment.

“The public trustee event is a great opportunity to showcase the RGIP students’ hard work, professionalism and knowledge,” said Matt Hurst, Ph.D., CFA, interim director of the Roland and Sarah George Investments Institute. “It’s also an opportunity for the public to pick up a tip or two. They can capitalize on the meticulous research and deep dives into company fundamentals that has kept the students busy for months.”

Following the presentations, Zambelli asked the audience to text their opinion for which of the four companies RGIP should invest in — Disney, Spectrum, TopBuild and Marriott. (L3Harris and another stock, NextEra Energy, were not voted on, but were presented to show the audience how to look at both sides of a stock for evaluation purposes.)

With a resounding 53 percent of the vote, TopBuild was the obvious audience favorite, with Disney coming in second with 23 percent of the vote. Independent of the audience vote, the RGIP board voted on the same four stock recommendations to determine which ones they deemed worthy investments.

In total, nearly $130,000 was approved from the RGIP Growth Fund for investment in TopBuild and The Walt Disney Company.

The purpose of this semiannual meeting is to help the Roland George Institute achieve its goal of providing financial education to the public while also giving RGIP students an opportunity to manage a real portfolio comprising $3.8 million in stocks and bonds. Using fundamental research tools and data services such as Bloomberg, Reuters, Morningstar and Baseline, students find and defend investment recommendations to the investments committee.

This year, the students were able to take advantage of the program’s 12 new, state-of-the-art Bloomberg terminals to research and vet their stocks leading up to the event.


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