Students Win Business Competition, Travel to Italy for Regionals

A team of AUC students scored first place in the local Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute Research Challenge, beating five other Egyptian universities. The students then traveled to Milan, Italy in early April for the regional CFA competition, where they faced teams from 30 universities across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

All participants in the local competition performed a detailed analysis of Oriental Weavers company to determine whether investors should buy, sell or keep holding its stock. The contestants conducted independent research, visited the company to pose questions to the chief executive officer and board of directors, and developed a model of the company’s projected future value, as professional financial analysts would. Based on the financial model they developed, the AUC team of Sandra Boutros, Marina Iskander, Perihan Hafez, Samar El Shafiey and Ingy El-Morally recommended that investors buy stock in the company.

“The goal is to determine the value of the stock and give a recommendation to investors who don’t know anything about the company,” said Boutros. “Oriental Weavers is a very successful and strong company at this time, but we also had to forecast what the company’s performance would be like over the next few years to determine the value of its stock today. We found that the stock is undervalued and is going to go up, so if investors can purchase it for less than the returns they will ultimately receive.”

The CFA is a prestigious institution, known to promote ethics in the finance industry. This is the third year the CFA has held a local competition in Egypt, under the auspices of the CFA Society of Egypt. AUC won in the first year, while Ain Shams was victorious last year. For the first time this year, a qualifying competition, organized by AUC’s student-run Actuarial Science Association and Business Association, was held on campus in October to determine which students would represent the University in the local CFA challenge.

“The competition is an exercise to better apply all of the concepts the students learned in class,” said Aliaa Bassiouny, assistant professor of finance who served as an adviser to the team. “It allows students to get a real feel of how to do a valuation. This gives them an edge in the job market because most people do not know how to do this.”

For the students, the competition was a challenge, an achievement and a learning experience. “The competition was the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and winning was like a dream come true,” said Boutros. “In addition to the technical skills we gained, we also learned the importance of perseverance, persistence and teamwork.”

El-Morally noted that the core value of the competition was the practical, hands-on experience gained, as well as the wide exposure and numerous opportunities for skill enhancement. “The competition gave us a feel for how the finance and banking industry really works,” she said. “It is a taste of what we will be doing after we graduate from the University.”

At the competition, the students defended their recommendation in a report, as well as a 10-minute presentation and question and answer session in front of a distinguished panel of judges from the Egyptian business industry. “Our presentation skills are what made us win,” Boutros affirmed. “We also received a lot of support from Dr. Aliaa, who was with us from the beginning to the very end.”

“Winning was the best feeling,” added El-Morally. “It was amazing because we put a lot of work into the valuation, and we’re so happy it paid off.”

Agreed Iskander, “We worked very long hours, spending days and nights on campus over the winter break, but it was all worth it.”

Photo caption: Sandra Boutros, Marina Iskander, Ingy El-Morally, Perihan Hafez and Samar El Shafiey win first place at the local CFA competition