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Maize and Blue Stock Pitch Competition: Showcasing Student Talents in the World of Finance

By March 27th, 2023No Comments9 min read

Pitching a stock in a contest is never an easy thing to do. Just imagine how hard it is going to be for the eight students in competing in the Maize and Blue Stock Pitch competition. After devoting hours of preparation for the event, factoring in a potential banking crisis will be challenging and rewarding for their future business endeavors.

Corey Tobin, Partner, Analyst at William Blair Investment Management, a BBA graduate from Ross in 1995 had this to say about the event. “I am very excited to be part of U of M’s Maize & Blue Endowment Fund’s inaugural stock pitch competition. Professor Nezafat teaches one of the country’s premier asset management classes, giving both undergrad and graduate students a chance to practice their portfolio management skills in real-world conditions. This competition provides them with a unique opportunity to develop relationships with industry mentors, and I am hopeful it will play a key role in training tomorrow’s investment leaders.”

The forthcoming event at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, set to occur on Friday, March 24, 2023, will be none other than the Maize and Blue Stock Pitch Competition, a platform aimed at presenting and evaluating the stock-picking capabilities of undergraduate and MBA students. It is important to note that this competition is succeeding the Undergraduate Investment Conference (UIC), which boasts the title of being the largest collegiate stock pitch competition and conference in North America.

The Maize and Blue Fund is a course offered by the Ross School of Business that extends the privilege to both undergraduate and MBA students to make real investment decisions in the stock market. To enhance and enrich the student experience, the Maize and Blue Stock Pitch Competition was introduced this year. Interestingly, this competition will include eight students, with six students being members of the fund, while two students were carefully selected from a pool of University of Michigan students who had actively taken part in the first round of the competition in February.

This stock-pitch competition is indeed an annual event hosted by the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, specifically targeted at undergraduates and MBA students enrolled in the Managing Maize and Blue Fund course. The eligible stocks must emanate from a universe of companies whose market capitalizations surpass the $500 million mark and share prices above $2, as of the close of regular trading on December 31st, 2022. Additionally, the equities must have a three-month average daily volume of at least 100,000 shares and must trade on the NASDAQ, NYSE, or NYSE AMEX (no OTCBB or PinkSheets). The opportunity will be evaluated as a long or short position with a three to twelve-month investment horizon.

Corey Tobin, a Research Analyst at William Blair Investment Management, generously gifted the Maize and Blue Fund to enable the competition to take place every year. This year’s event is being organized by Corey, Jordan Hymowtiz, and Pedram Nezafat. The students are also fortunate to have been assigned to a practitioner mentor who currently works in the capital markets, an initiative to foster continued learning and refine their pitches.

This stock-pitch competition is indeed sponsored by William Blair, Philadelphia Financial Management, and Thrivent Asset Management. The judges for this year’s competition are no ordinary individuals:

  • Corey Tobin – Mr. Tobin is the Director of Research and a Research Analyst for the U.S. Growth Equity team at William Blair Investment Management. He focuses on investments in U.S. small-cap technology companies. He previously served in William Blair’s sell-side research group, focusing on specialty software and healthcare IT companies. He received a B.S. in business administration with high distinction from the University of Michigan, an M.B.A. from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.
  • Jordan Hymowitz – Mr. Hymowitz is the Managing Principal at Philadelphia Financial Management San Francisco and has been affiliated with the company since March 2004. Philadelphia Financial is a hedge fund that manages $1B in regulatory AUM. The managers’ latest filing has disclosed $313MM in positions, which represents 30% of the manager’s regulatory AUM.
  • Matthew Finn, CFA – Mr. Finn joined Thrivent in 2004 and is currently the Head of Equity Mutual Funds. He serves as a portfolio manager for the Thrivent Small Cap Stock Fund (since 2013) and the Thrivent Small-Mid Cap ESG ETF (since 2022).

In conclusion, the Maize and Blue Stock Pitch Competition is an unparalleled platform for students to gain significant experience in the financial industry. Not only does it allow the students to showcase their unique stock-picking skills, but it also grants them exposure to industry practitioners and mentors who can help guide their careers. We wish all the participants the best of luck in the competition, and we look forward to seeing the winners’ success in the future.


UPDATE Mar 27: Bear Case For Household Name Finishes 1st

Six students completed due diligence on a stock of their choice for the Maize and Blue Stock Pitch Competition at the University of Michigan on Friday.

The students were given feedback during the process by three judges: Corey Tobin, investment management analyst at William Blair; Jordan Hymowitz, managing principal at Philadelphia Financial Management; and Matthew Finn, CFA, senior portfolio manager at Thrivent Financial.

Interestingly, five of the issues were pitched from a bullish perspective and only one was pitched as a potential short.

The three presentations that did not finish in the money were excellent. All presenters were more than well-prepared and were poised during their presentations. In addition, all of the presenters handled the grilling during the Q&A portion with ease.

Stay tuned, as some of the participants will be making their stock pitches to the PreMarket Prep audience in the coming weeks.

Here’s what Joel witnessed during the competition among undergraduate and MBA students, held at the Tozzi Electronic Business and Finance Center at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.


Sajiv Shah, Bullish Gray Television: Sajiv Shah made a compelling bullish presentation for Gray Television, Inc. (GTN), a television broadcast company.

Shah contends the issue, which has been punished for recent earnings misses, will stage a rebound. He forecast the company will benefit from the rapid rise in political advertising spend in the current and emerging swing states, in which the company is well-positioned.


Brooke Wrobe, Bullish Toll Brothers: If there was an award for the most bullish call, it would have to go to Brooke Wrobel. She has no fear of rising interest rates or a potential recession with a bullish pitch on the luxury home builder Toll Brothers Inc (TOL)

Brooke’s thesis is based on a few factors: most importantly, that interest rates will begin to stabilize, which is a must for issues in the sector. Other factors include the fact that higher-end buyers weather market conditions better, a demographic shift to millennials, expanding margins through spec homes and reducing costs through vertical integration.


Francesco De Col, Bullish Masterbrand: Francesco De Col pitched a new issue, MasterBrand Inc (MBC). He argued Investors are misunderstanding the housing situation, which is having a negative impact on the cabinet maker.

He highlighted its diverse product base and history of pricing power along with margin expansion as potential catalysts.

The new stock has been hampered by post-spinoff selling pressure. Finally, De Col predicts Wall Street analysts may begin to increase what is now limited coverage of the issue.


Tejas Gumudavelly, Third Place, Bullish Proto Labs: Tejas Gumudavelly pitched Proto Labs Inc (PRLB). Gumudavelly predicts the on-demand manufacturer of custom parts for prototyping and short-run production will regain some of its former glory.

He forecast strong cash flow production from its 55,000 unique product developers, with the reason being that Proto Labs’ digital platform reduces lag time.

Most importantly, its 130 locations in the U.S., with a strong presence in the Northwest and Northeast near its clients, which in turn will have a positive impact on shipping costs, Gumudavelly said.


Shrey Dalal, Second Place, Bullish ON Semiconductor: Shrey Dalal pitched ON Semiconductor Corp (ON) and focused on the company’s product mix and the focus on developing the next generation of chips.

Increasing market share in an expanding electric vehicle chip market and decreasing long-term cap-ex needs are two other WD-40 catalysts, Dalal said.

Finally, he said the company trades below peer valuations. He has a price target of $105.


Taylor Bielefeld, First Place, Bearish WD-40: Taylor Bielefeld surprised with a bearish call on WD-40 Company (WDFC). He forecast a decline in the share price of the issue for a few different reasons, with the primary one being the gradual conversion to electric vehicles, which require much less maintenance and use of WD-40’s main products, which Bielefeld said will crush demand.

Most importantly, he contends that after 70 years the company lacks innovation. The most recent change to the product is a new straw for dispensing, Bielefeld said. He has a price target of $75.