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YSU investment club profits from its model

YOUNGSTOWN — Youngstown State University’s Student Investment Fund Club’s money-making philosophy may be as straightforward as it is commonsensical, but it has paid off handsomely.

“We invest in growing companies that are the top players — companies we use every day,” such as Microsoft, PayPal and other big names, said Tommy Murphy, the 13-year-old club’s vice president and a YSU senior finance student.

Murphy, along with executive team members Jeffrey Senediak, Emily Phillips and Angie Gopalakrishnan, gave a presentation about their club’s $2.4 million portfolio and investment approaches during the YSU Foundation’s meeting last week in Melnick Hall.

The club debuted in 2008, at which time the Youngstown Foundation entrusted it with $250,000. For about six years after that, the foundation added to the portfolio in $50,000 annual increments, bringing it to $550,000, noted Peter Chen, an associate professor of finance and club adviser. From there, it has grown considerably in the ensuing years, he added.

“We don’t touch it,” Senediak, a senior and finance student, said when asked what club members intend to do with the funds.

Instead, the ultimate goal is to “grow it as much as possible,” while using part of the portfolio to buy stocks and fund scholarships, explained Senediak, who plans to join PNC Bank in June and work in wealth management. He added that club members initially vote on which companies to invest in.

Achieving that level of growth entails the club adhering to an equity investment philosophy that embraces a simple and easy-to-understand business model, a dominant market share in growing industries, companies led by competent managers such as Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg, and competitive advantages over industry peers, Senediak continued.

Senediak, Murphy and Phillips also said club members’ top industry sectors in which they invest are information technology, industrials and consumer-discretionary opportunities. Others include health care, real estate, energy, communication services and utilities, they explained.

In addition, the SIF Club aims to help students gain investment practices, refine communication and leadership skills and develop relationships with business professionals, Murphy noted.

The Student Investment Fund Club meets Tuesdays to talk about such ideas, look at career choices and discuss business trends and the economy, among other things. In addition, speakers are brought in to share their perspectives on those and other related topics, as well as their success stories, Chen said.

“I try to enforce the idea of long-term investments,” he added. “A lot of it is discipline.”

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