2012 Stock-Screening Contest Gets Underway

One of the most powerful tools in the business journalist’s kit is the stock screen. Whether a reporter is just starting out or deep into a long career, screening can help him or her uncover surprising stories quickly and systematically.

The idea is simple. Start with a thesis about where the market is headed and why (a well-reported educated guess will do). Then, take the broad universe of stocks and, using software (free or fancy), filter those stocks through a set of parameters that mirror the thesis.

For example, a reporter who supposes the European debt crisis is about to be resolved might screen for European banks that took a beating over the last year in order to find stocks that could be ready to rebound.

Each year, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism runs a stock screening contest. Each student in the school’s M.A. seminar in business journalism writes a stock screen column, and each of their stocks is purchased in a fantasy portfolio using MarketWatch’s Virtual Stock Exchange. At the end of the semester, the student whose stock has earned the highest return is declared the winner.

Here are the students’ stock screens and picks for the spring 2012 semester.

Nish Amarnath – Cisco Systems (CSCO)
Liudmila Blagonravova – Energy XXI (EXXI)
Yingqiao Cheng – TransGlobe Energy (TGA)
Lauren Darm – Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA)
Andrea Hayley – Caterpillar (CAT)
Sun Huixia – VanceInfo (VTI)
Julia Leite – Southern Copper (SCCO)
Nizar Manek – Cobalt Energy (CIE)
Veneta Nikolova – Rackspace (RAX)
Nathalie Pierrepont – China Automotive Systems (CAAS)
Michael Obernauer – Wynn Resorts (WYNN)
Hunter Smith – Sempra Energy (SRE)
Peter Vanham – Barclays (BCS)

Prof. James B. Stewart – Petrobras (PBR)
Prof. Jonathan Knee – Town Sports International (CLUB)

Follow the class’s fantasy portfolio here.
(Free registration on the Virtual Stock Exchange is required.)


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