The Stock Market Game Week in Review: March 23

A look at the week that was.
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Many of your student teams are either in the thick of their Stock Market Game session or nearing its end. If your teams are making money, they are most likely checking their rankings daily to see if they have reached the coveted top spot. For those losing money, I'm sure they are less than enthused about their place in the competition.

This week's message is geared towards those teams losing money that need some stock ideas and motivation (and perhaps a prayer) to turn their portfolio around for the remaining portion of the game session. Last week's edition of BusinessWeek profiles the top 50 stock picks of the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index.

They analyzed the last 12-month and three-year periods and measured shareholder returns during these time periods. They also factored in net profit margins and long-term earning prospects. Many of the companies profiled are well known (and may currently be present in your students' portfolios), but three out of the top five will probably be unfamiliar to your students. Below is a short description of each and why they are considered the best performers of the year to date:

5. Questar (STR): The Salt Lake City company is on a quest for natural gas and has rapidly added new natural gas reserves at low cost by staying close to its Rocky Mountain beginnings. It also owns gas pipelines and a natural gas utility serving more than 800,000 customers in Utah, southwestern Wyoming, and Southeastern Idaho.

4. Nucor (NUE): With a net income of $1.8 billion and sales at $14.8 billion, Nucor is evolving into one of the best steel operators. A major recycler of scrap metal, Nucor produces steel by melting scrap in electric furnaces and sells its products to steel service centers, manufacturers, and fabricators. Last year it acquired Verco Manufacturing, a maker of steel floors and roof decks, which will help broaden Nucor's product line.

3. Gilead Sciences (GILD): With its new product Atripla, released in July, 2006, Gilead Sciences is a powerhouse among providers of HIV treatments. Atripla combines three HIV drugs into one pill and has brought in sales of $205.7 million since its release. Gilead is also working on new drugs to treat cystic fibrosis and hepatitis.

2. Coach (COH): Even elementary school girls are familiar with the upscale leather goods and accessories maker. The company has expanded its line to include outerwear, luggage, eyewear, fragrances, and footwear and will add jewelry and home goods products in the near future.

1. Google (GOOG): The leading Internet search engine which offers search results for over eight billion web sites, netted $10.6 billion in revenues during 2006 - up 67% over the previous year. Its current project is to tackle Microsoft by creating a new office software.

Since three of these companies are most likely new to your students, they may be interested in researching them further as they begin their InvestWrite essays (due April 13th). Be sure to check out the How to InvestWrite lesson located in the Teacher Support Center. The lesson provides an overview of the competition and helps students get organized to write their essay. The lesson is accessible by clicking "Lesson Sequence" and then selecting "Display a Complete Outline of All Lessons."

This article was written by a staff member of The Stock Market Game.