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University of Oregon Investors Focus on Small-Caps

As the fall semester comes to a close, the University of Oregon Investment Group has more to think about than grades. This team of undergraduates is responsible for a $1 million investment portfolio and holding the lead in an 18-college portfolio competition. How do they do it? Here's a look inside the UOIG.

How the UOIG Works

Since 1998, the University of Oregon Investment Group (UOIG) has existed to provide the school's undergrads with a chance to get hands-on experience investing real money.

The group is composed of 33 members who each act as a either a sector analyst or one of three portfolio managers.

Sector analysts research stocks in a given sector (UOIG splits companies into consumer goods; industry, materials, and energy; healthcare; technology; and financial companies) and during the group's Friday morning meetings, they pitch their buy or sell recommendations to the other members.

Portfolio managers supervise the analysts and are responsible for tracking and analyzing the performance of the portfolio of funds as a whole, as well as give guidance to the analysts.

Senior Darren Crook, the portfolio manager for the group's Tall Firs portfolio, explains: "We work a lot with our sector leaders on identifying different subsectors, or different companies that we like, trying to exploit opportunities that we see. The analysts themselves have the opportunity to value or research any company they'd like, but sometimes they would like some help figuring out which company to focus on ."

In total, the group manages three portfolios: Tall Firs, DADCO and Svigals. And like other investment clubs, stocks are only added to the UOIG's funds after a group-wide vote.

About the UOIG's Three Portfolios

Tall Firs: Tall Firs is the group's largest portfolio by far, accounting for over $800,000 of UOIG's assets under management. Named in honor of the University of Oregon's 1939 national champion basketball team, Tall Firs has long-term appreciation in mind.

DADCO: On the other hand, the DADCO portfolio focuses on " growth at a reasonable price" (GARP). DADCO is the group's first portfolio and was created as part of the D.A. Davidson Student Investment Program, a portfolio competition developed by Montana-based investment firm D.A. Davidson & Company to give college students the chance to invest real capital . The UOIG splits the DADCO fund's earnings with the Davidson program.

The DADCO portfolio is rebalanced at $50,000 each September, and its performance is ranked against the program's 18 other competing schools, including nearby Portland State University.

Svigals: The newest addition to the UOIG is the Svigals Portfolio. Wholly owned by University of Oregon alum Howard Svigals, the portfolio adds more than $100,000 to the group's assets under management.

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