Stock rising at South

May 16, 2000|By TARA REILLY

They're far from being investment junkies. They do not plan to have careers on Wall Street.

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But the team of freshmen and sophomores from South Hagerstown High School won second place in a statewide stock market competition.

The team was one of 723 to participate in the Maryland competition of SMG Worldwide's Internet Stock Market Contest.

"I thought we were going to come in last," Bryan Williams, 15, said. "Then we just came back, and I don't know how."

In the competition, each team had $100,000 in imaginary money to invest on the New York Stock Exchange, NASDAQ or the American Stock Exchange. The three teams with the most money at the end of a 10-week period that ended April 23 won the game.


At one point the group was ranked near the bottom at 721 - two spots from last place - but gradually climbed to near the top after selling a few stocks that weren't making money, including Playboy Magazine.

They bypassed the popular technology stocks and invested in companies they were familiar with, including Nike, Timberland, Ford and Home Depot.

That strategy paid off, and the team wound up making $26,000 in 10 weeks.

In addition to Williams, Marcus Persinger, 16, Brad Stotlemyer, 16, Robert Ragland, 16, Steve Mayes, 15, and Ted Wentzell, 14, made up the winning team.

The group members are in teacher Bob Hornbecker's government class.

"I think everyone else invested heavily in tech stocks," Hornbecker said. "They didn't, and it paid off."

Persinger said the big payoff came when they bought 4,025 shares of Nike in the last two days of the competition. When the Nike stock shot up, so did their chances of winning the competition.

"We kind of thought we were out of it," Persinger said. "In the last two days of the contest we worked our way to the top because of the Nike stock."

When asked if their success has sparked an interest in careers as stock brokers, group members responded with a definite "no."

"You can lose money on the stock market, too," Persinger said.

Hornbecker said the win is impressive since the students picked their own stocks with no advice from him.

"The stock market is just a gamble and they gambled right," Hornbecker said.

The group will receive certificates and plaques for their winning efforts at a luncheon at Towson State University on May 23.

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