Tuesday, January 17, 2017

TOP STORY >> Arnold Drive kids cash in

Leader staff writer

Looking for stock tips? Want to stretch your retirement funds? Or just need some sound financial advice but don’t know who to ask?

Just check with three Arnold Drive Elementary fifth graders who placed first in the central Arkansas region of the state’s stock market game, a simulation that extends learning into social studies, math, economics, real-life situations and higher thinking.

The girls — Lanna Rogers, Deana Stafford and Nabia Northern — were honored last Wednesday at a luncheon at Verizon Arena, where they received medallions, certificates, a school trophy and cold hard cash.

The trio were one of 182 elementary school teams participating in the 10-week stock market simulation. The school sponsored four other teams, but the rest came from Jacksonville, North Little Rock, Little Rock, Conway, Lonoke and points in between.

In all, 5,700 students participated across the state in six regional contests. The Arnold Drive team, which was first in the central region, finish 20th out of 1,768 teams with only one elementary team ahead of them, putting them in the top 2 percent in the state.

The three admit they didn’t really know much when the game started. Nabia said she didn’t even know you could buy shares of companies. While Deanna said she didn’t know stocks could go down.

But 10-weeks later the trio can talk long term charts, bulls, bears, profit-to-earnings growth ratios and mean recommendations.

In the game, each team is given $100,000 in virtual money to invest and trade in real companies at “live” prices. In the end the team managed to rack in about $1,000 a week from their five-stock portfolio.

Lanna said they invested in some companies they knew about and some they found by accident. One they knew about that did quite well for them was Dave & Busters. So did Macy’s. For them they lucked out that the game ended before the department store giant announced massive layoffs.

Then they found Franklin Trust, Regulus Therapeutics by accident. “We were just punching ticker symbol letters into Yahoo! Finance to see what would come up,” Deana said.

Nabia added that at first the team was looking for companies whose mean recommendation (what the experts thought) was 2.5 or less. “The closer to one, the more experts say buy it, and the closer to five the more they say sell it. We found so many companies at one-point-something that we decided not to get any company above 1.9,” she explained.

The team was sitting in 110th place on Election Day, Deana explained, then the next morning they were in fifth. “And then first place to stay,” Nabia said.

“All of our stock choices made money, although Dave & Busters was our best stock,” Lanna said. Duluth Holdings and Macy’s did quite well for them, too.

Because of their winning strategy and first-place finish the team got to split $125 in award money.

“I can do a lot with that $42,” said Nabia, heading out of the luncheon.

The three plan to team up for the spring edition of the game that starts later this month. “We’ll be at the next banquet, too,” Lanna said as her teammates nodded.

The other four teams from Arnold Drive finished third, 23rd, 32nd, 92nd and 178th.

Teams from Pinewood, Tolleson, Murrell Taylor, Bayou Meto and Warren Dupree Elementary schools also participated in the central region along with Lonoke and England Elementary schools.

The game is sponsored twice a year by Economics Arkansas and among the other sponsors are Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Lou Graham with Morgan Stanley, Harriet and Warren Stephens with Stephens Inc. Riceland and Delta Dental.