The Stock Market Game is a curriculum-based teaching tool that allows students to invest a hypothetical $100,000 online stock portfolio to learn about long-term saving and investing.While the government confirmed on Thursday that the U.S. economy suffered its largest drop in 26 years during the fourth quarter, the markets provided somewhat of a silver lining earlier this week, posting 20% gains in under three weeks. Unfortunately, the gains were short-lived as the markets retreated on Friday. As Stock Market Game students select their portfolio investments, they may be interested in taking a look at the most recent issue of BusinessWeek's top 50 stock picks of the S&P 500. It analyzed two core financial measures, average return on capital and growth, both taken over the previous 36 months. It also factored in net profit margins and long-term earning prospects. Unlike in years past, many of the companies occupying the top spots are not well-known. They also span various industries and sectors that your students may want to research further. The top five include:
- Gilead Sciences (GILD) (Industry: Pharmaceuticals): The top spot goes to a biopharmaceutical company that discovers, develops, and manufactures therapies for viral diseases, infectious diseases and cancer.
- CF Industries Holdings (CF) (Industry: Fertilizers): This company is one of North America's largest manufacturers and distributors of nitrogen and phosphate fertilizer products used primarily by farmers.
- Diamond Offshore (DO) (Industry: Energy Equipment & Services): Diamond is a leading U.S. deepwater drilling contractor providing services to the energy industry worldwide. In 1992, Loews (L) bought the company's assets for $372 million and still controls 50% of Diamond.
- Windstream (WIN) (Industry: Telecommunications): Based in Little Rock, Ark., the company provides phone, digital TV and broadband service to rural customers in 16 states.
- Colgate-Palmolive (CL) (Industry: Consumer Staples): Fortunately, the current state of the economy is not impacting consumers' need to brush their teeth. The company is the leader in oral care products and plans to unveil the Wisp, a disposable mini toothbrush with built-in breath fresheners, on April 6.