Steamboat Springs Investors, take note: despite wildly fluctuating commodities and the turbulent stock market, four students at Steamboat Springs High School have managed to rack up $18,410 in five weeks.
The money may not be real, but their ranking as top earners in the state holds true.
Seniors Mick Dierdorff and Jonas Seiler, junior Jay Trousil and sophomore Matt Binsfeld, who are in Rebecca Williams' business class, hold a diverse portfolio on www.stockmarketgame.com, a national Web site where students can use a fictional $100,000 to test their investing skills.
The team, "Something Fierce," said the secret to its success is a lack of greed and good research. The team buys stocks after they have hit an apparent bottom plateau, waits for the stock to gain a few points, then sells for a small gain, which can add up quickly, members said. The team even has used the economic downturn - much like billionaire investor Warren Buffett - to buy tanked stocks for an eventual profit.
"We buy when they're the worst they've ever been," Seiler said.
"And we sell them even if it's just a little change," Trousil concluded.
The team, one of five in Williams' class, has maintained a spot within the top three teams in the state for the past several weeks.
Williams said she teaches the teams how to research the stocks and requires participants to explain any purchase or sale with data.
"Their decisions have been based on research," Williams said. "For example, it might be cool for high schoolers to buy stock in Vail, but they're not doing that."
Williams said she grades the students not on how much money they eventually accumulate - because even good bankers can lose money in the market - but by the soundness of their research.
The project is funded by John Pougiales, a financial adviser and branch manager of the Raymond James Financial Services office in Steamboat Springs. He has been providing the registration fee of several hundred dollars for about four years, he said.
"I want the kids to learn something about investing and equity markets : predominantly so they start getting an interest in it and so they can start developing some knowledge about it," he said.
Pougiales, who works primarily with long-term investments, said he wanted to make sure the students understand it is just a game and they should not expect to see the same returns all the time in real life.
"They're expected to make money over three months," he said. "You can't expect to get those returns in the short term."
Despite that warning, Dierdorff said he was inspired by his group's success.
"I wish I had real money invested in our stocks right now," Dierdorff said.