By Randy Rendfeld
For The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON -- Some Anderson High School students have found that they have a real talent for picking stock market winners.
On Oct. 8, AHS economics teacher Michael Fox told the Anderson Community Schools Board that his students were ranked No. 1 among 577 Indiana teams playing the Stock Market Game, an exercise in which participants get $100,000 of play money to invest. Students select stocks then chart their growth or decline. The 10-week simulation will end Dec. 6.
By the week of Nov. 12, he had three teams highly ranked -- second, 11th and 13th. And by then, 1,031 teams were playing the Stock Market Game in Indiana.
On Friday, the top three AHS teams had moved into third, 11th and 12th places among 1,047 teams in Indiana. The third-place team held a stock portfolio worth $116,732.66 on Friday. The 11th- and 12th-place teams had portfolios of about $110,000 each.
Fox said 34 AHS teams were competing this fall in the Stock Market Game.
Stocks AHS students bought included American Eagle Outfitters (AEO), AMC Networks Inc. (AMCX), Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc. (LGND), CVS Caremark Corp. (CVS), PepsiCo Inc. (PEP), Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ), United Parcel Service (UPS), World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. (WWE) and Walter Energy Inc. (WLT). The latter three have paid off particularly well, according to students.
AHS student Sage Baker said his team discovered Walter Energy by a lucky accident when they were searching for Walmart. But Walter Energy has moved up a lot since they bought it. "It definitely got us a lot of money for being such a small company," he said.
Students could pick index funds or stocks like Proctor and Gamble, Fox said. But they generally want to pick stocks that they know and like. And because it's imaginary money, they can take risks. Fox adds that a team would be unlikely to win by picking P&G.
Years ago, Fox said, students would use paper and pencil to play the Stock Market Game. Now they use computer software and smartphone apps to track their investments.
Each year, Fox puts students in charge of investing $100 of his own money. "As soon as they picked Walmart for me, I remember it going down and down and down," he said. "But I'm not spending it. I'm investing it. That's what I tell Mrs. Fox."
Asked how Fox makes his economics class interesting to students, he said they recently discussed the Mounds Lake Reservoir project as well as how professional sports stars manage their money.
"Things like that tend to make it better than just studying the federal tax code," Fox said. "We do get around to all the nuts and bolts textbook things. But we try to present it in a way that is a little more exciting."
The Stock Market Game is sponsored by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association and the Indiana Secretary of State Securities Division.
"The Stock Market Game engages students and improves academic performance, financial knowledge, and saving and investing habits," an American Institutes for Research study concluded.