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Solutions Showcase: Part 2 – Navigating the stock market with a professional

This is Part Two of a series completed for Solutions Showcase. To read Part One, please click here.

Through the volatility of the stock market and the difficulty of picking stocks, Equity Analyst Simon Paterson of T. Rowe Price has thrived throughout his career in giving stock advice. An 18-year career at Brown Advisory and M&T Bank has helped him learn about market trends and helpful tendencies. His role includes providing advice to portfolio managers within his company: “As an analyst, I say, ‘Hey, you should buy or sell this stock.” Then, the managers use that advice to purchase or sell their fund’s holdings.

Simon Paterson, CFA, Equity Analyst at T. Rowe Price

Every analyst within a company covers a market sector, ranging from technology to energy. Mr. Paterson covers the “multi-industrials or companies that have businesses across different types of end-markets.” Across the defense industry, he covers companies such as Booz Allen Hamilton, General Dynamics, and L3 Harris. Meanwhile, companies in the multi-industrial industry include Roper Technologies and Teledyne. He covers “everything from transportation, construction software, and things like that.”

When covering companies and tracking their stock market activity, a large portion comes with reading news articles and press releases. He and his colleagues read “everything we can get our hands on.” Services dedicated to stock market activity such as Bloomberg and CNBC serve analysts well, according to Mr. Paterson. However, trade magazines, company filings, disclosures, and especially conversations with insiders serve them well. He mentioned that he speaks to people dealing with investor relations and listens to their advice on the company guidance. I asked him to rank the three sources of information for market advice: news, numbers, or charts.

While explaining the significance of all three, he chose charts as the most paramount: “What’s important is forecasting, so we spend a lot of time figuring out what the numbers were and why they were, so we can figure out what really matters in driving the numbers in the future.” Though they play a significant role, the other two do not hold the edge against charts. With numbers, “The whole name of the game: we are trying to figure out what’s something worth, and how much cash flow they will generate in the future.” On the other hand, with news, “I think finding out what’s actually happening is most important; there’s a tendency to have a narrative and look for things that support it.”

“What’s important is forecasting, so we spend a lot of time figuring out what the numbers were and why they were, so we can figure out what really matters in driving the numbers in the future.”

Mr. Simon Paterson, Equity Analyst at T. Rowe Price

News and charts are pretty simple to explain when researching stock trends. However, business websites provide large amounts of numbers to investigate. My first article mentioned four numbers that investors use: PE Ratio, PB Ratio, Free Cash Flow, and PEG Ratio. Mr. Paterson explained that the Free Cash Flow metric is the best out of the four because “that’s what they [a company] has earned.” Instead of the quarterly earnings that companies send out, which “are an accounting construct, so there are some non-cash factors in there, free cash flow is the true cash measure of what a company earned.” Usually, significant changes in share prices occur after a company sends out earnings results.

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According to Mr. Paterson, a stock begins a positive or negative change in the margin begins the same trend in a company share price. Also, he mentioned, “Most stocks go up when the market goes up, and down when the market goes down. A company typically needs to grow faster than the benchmark, sometimes will do worse if it slows down.” If analysts expect a company to improve by 20%, but they only grow by 10%, investors consider that as slow growth. However, if they outperform that expectation, it is believed that they performed well in the previous quarter. The earnings significantly affect stock price due to “either the earnings numbers or what they say on the call about guidance or sales.”

Through the volatility and unpredictability of today’s stock market, different market sectors fit our world’s positive and adverse events. Infrastructure and capital spending (new federal infrastructure bill), defense (Russian-Ukraine war), cloud technology, and the travel industry (recovery after the pandemic) are some of the best sectors to invest in, according to Mr. Paterson. On the other hand, transportation and retail goods (government not sending money relief) sit on the negative side of today’s world. Through the economy’s difficulties, he admitted that people are worried about a recession due to the high inflation and the rate increases by the Federal Reserve.

For young investors in middle school and high school, Mr. Paterson had some suggestions to start: “Read. Find some good books, and recognize that I’ve been doing this for over 20 years, and I’m still learning all the time. It’s maybe like an athlete, but the good news is our brains can get stronger even as we get older.” Also, he mentioned compound investing: “The most powerful thing in investing is the power of compounding. Any dollar you put in today is going to be worth a lot more when you are fifty or sixty.” When speaking about conversations with experienced investors, humility plays a prominent role in the stock market: “Be humble. People love to talk about their winners, and they never mention their losers. You should have some humility and make sure you are learning from your mistakes. Your expectation shouldn’t be that you are going to get rich quick, and if it is, you are going to do things that will increase the likelihood of you losing everything.”

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As I mentioned earlier, money problems and scandals will plague our world, changing company confidence and negatively impacting investors. The trick about the stock market is managing these issues to bring in the most considerable profit. Mr. Paterson’s advice and expertise have grown since his early days as an investor, and his experience assisting professional fund managers helped him learn the craft of investing. The stock market will become more challenging to navigate with future complications that we cannot predict. Taking advice from the best will only help improve an investor’s attempt to traverse the market.

Alex Kwas is a freshman member of The Quill.

Solutions Showcase: 5 suggestions to assist young investors

The stock market can act as a complicated topic for young high school students beginning to learn about finances. As the son of a former Equity Research Analyst, the person who delivers advice about certain stocks to investors, and the current Vice President of Investor Relations, the employee who speaks to investors about the company stock trends – my family introduced me to the market at an early age. In fifth grade, I bought my first stock with loaned money from my grandfather and continue to trade up to this day. Using information from investment websites and knowledge from my family members, I put together five suggestions for those with a new interest in investing.

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First, I have seen a recent reactionary trend among young investors where they overreact to the price of the stock. At $199 in June 2018, I purchased five shares of Facebook even though the company was at the height of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Since I first bought stock, I have held it through the difficulties of the technology market. In 2019, it dropped to below $120 per share due to a low earnings outlook but the long-term holding paid off when it jumped to over $300 per share at the end of 2021. Unless actively trying to make money in the short-term—between a few weeks and a month—long-term investment is worth the wait.

Just look at Amazon, one of the largest companies in the world. From September-December 2018, at an all-time high of $1900 per share and trending upward, the company dropped to around $1300 per share, prompting many people to sell. However, since then, Amazon has not faced a significant decline and now sits close to $3500. Think about the major money made by investors that either bought a stock at the $1300 mark or held onto stock purchases from before. From what I have learned, the market will always rebound and a long-term wait will be worth it.

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Second, do not pick a company to purchase based on the name. Always look at the numbers first instead of saying, “I have heard of Apple, Amazon, and Meta so those seem like solid purchases.” However, small-cap stocks (stocks with smaller values) can be the best to make money. According to Investopedia, four numbers to investigate within a stock are PE Ratio, PB Ratio, Free Cash Flow, and PEG Ratio. The PE Ratio—price to earnings ratio—compares a share price to the per-share earnings. Usually, a lower PE Ratio is better because it shows the price an investor will pay for $1 worth of earnings. The Price-to-Book Ratio compares a company’s market value to its book value. The net value of a company is the net difference between the total assets and total liabilities. Similar to the PE Ratio, if a PB Ratio is low, that usually means the stock presents a good opportunity because the market undervalues the company’s worth. Free Cash Flow, a substantial number that indicates a stock’s performance, is calculated by subtracting the cash outflows supporting a company’s operations from the total amount generated. Obviously, make sure to look for a high number because it is the amount of money a company can invest and distribute to shareholders without roadblocks. Finally, to calculate the PEG Ratio, companies take their PE Ratio (the one discussed earlier) and divide it by the growth rate from their earnings. Depending on the company outlook, a higher number could show that they have growth potential but could also scream overvalue. Always be careful when analyzing the numbers and look at a chart if unsure.

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Third, always look to the outside world, scouting advertisements and listening to conversations. Whether watching television, browsing the internet, or taking a drive, new advertisements can begin a frenzy. Just last week, I noticed an advertisement for Newsy, a service that relaunched in October 2021 that provides unbiased news headlines. Their owner, E. W. Scripps (SSP), has had a positive gain of 15% since that release. For a company that has fallen 20% in the past five years, that represents a positive trend in their business. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram act as the most popular space for advertisements, and viewers should pay attention to the public companies for investment opportunities. Also, listening to conversations between people about popular products or new companies on the market can present another opportunity for investment. Tencent Holdings, the owner of Epic Games, has risen over 50% since the release of Fortnite on July 21, 2017, which presents another example of a hot product leading to a higher stock price. Young people talked about this game often and the purchases of materials for the game made the company boatloads of money.

Similar to my first suggestion, if you are not invested in the stock and its share price takes a massive fall, always think about purchasing a part of that company. Unless associated with a possibility of bankruptcy, which is an extremely rare occasion among large companies, expect a large rebound higher than previous prices. Big money comes from these types of examples because if a company lowers its guidance for future quarters but beats those numbers, investors will come in with big money. Obviously, purchasing stock at a medium price brings colossal gains, but buying at an even lower price helps professional investors make their first millions. Before my purchase of Marathon Petroleum in July 2020, it had dropped to below $20 a share, one of the lowest points in its history. However, I chose to wait to see if a rebound was in store for the company and officially bought it at $38. Though it seems like a minimal difference, I could have made an extra two hundred dollars off that stock if I purchased it in March. That difference makes the difference between amateur and professional investors!

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Finally, always follow company news and listen to conference calls for stocks you are currently in and stocks you are thinking about purchasing. Especially listen to the guidance numbers that the executive officers provide and how they answer questions from investors. Sometimes it can be hard to understand all the information, so try to read articles from reputable financial sources that explain why the stock acts in a certain way after they post the results. Though it may seem unimportant, add the stocks you are interested in purchasing to a watchlist and read the articles associated with them. Apple Stocks is usually a reliable source because they collect articles from all over the world. Going back to my last suggestion, stocks usually drop after bad earnings results or bad guidance so look for drops as a buying opportunity.

As always, the stock market is unpredictable and can make moves that no one sees coming. However, these five suggestions should help make it a little easier to pick stocks and decide when to sell them. For the second part of this two-part series, I will interview Mr. Simon Paterson (CFA), an equity analyst at T. Rowe Price. His professional advice and recommendations should be something to look forward to.

Alex Kwas is a freshman member of the Quill.

How the chiefs/Bills game forced the NFL to make a rules change

This year we might have experienced one of the most entertaining playoffs in NFL history. It included two overtime back-to-back weeks and games that were decided by one possession, not even including the Super Bowl.

On January 23, we may have witnessed one of the most explosive and exciting playoff games of all time. The Bills scored and left 13 seconds on the clock; the Chiefs, with three timeouts, drove down the field and kicked a field goal to tie the game at 36. The rest of the game was history. 

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The rules of overtime in the playoffs were that the team that wins the coin toss can choose to receive or defer the kickoff. There is a 15-minute quarter, and if no one scores, then they will go until there is a winner. As the Chiefs won the toss, they chose to receive. The Chiefs drove down the field with ease, it was first and goal, and Patrick Mahomes tossed the ball to Travis Kelce and he caught it, ending the game. This game will never be forgotten. This game left many people speechless and wondering what would’ve been the outcome if the Bills had a chance to possess the ball.

In 2010, the NFL changed the rules for the postseason only. The change was instead of being able to kick a field goal to end the game on the first drive they had to score a touchdown to win. Although the NFL and the NCAA have many different rules, I think the NFL should adopt the same overtime rules. Both teams will have possession before the game is over in the NCAA overtime rules. If one team scores, the other team gets a possession. After three times of this happening, it stops being touchdowns and transitions to 2-point scores; they start from the 25 and have a drive to score. This would until there is a winner.

This would improve the rules because it is more entertaining to watch, it’s fair for both teams, giving them a chance to extend the game and try to win. Lastly, the rule only being in the playoffs means it doesn’t change the regular season making it a tiny change to their many rules.

I firmly believe if the Bills vs. Chiefs overtime went this way, it would have been a different outcome. I think this because the Bills had a lot of momentum as they went into overtime, but they didn’t have a chance to prove themselves. It is situations like these where it would be beneficial to have the change.

Bengals QB Joe Burrow – AlexanderJonesi, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The following week the Bengals and Chiefs played in the AFC championship. The Chiefs started off hot, getting an 18-point lead going into halftime. The Bengals were able to rally and tie the game. The Chiefs went three and out and punted the ball. The Bengals kicked a field goal and gave Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs six minutes to score. The Chiefs made it look similar to the game against the Bills. They drove down, and in the final seconds, they kicked a field goal to send it to overtime. 

The Chiefs won the toss and got the ball to start. The Chiefs got the ball at the 25, and they got a first down, thinking this game would be the same as the week before. Everyone now assumed the Chiefs would win. Mahomes dropped back and threw an interception. The Bengals drove a few yards and kicked the field goal to win. I believe that if the Bills had a chance, they would have won like the Bengals did.

Ironically the Super Bowl between the Rams and Bengals came down to a similar situation to the divisional and championship. The Bengals had a chance to go down and score, but they didn’t.

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In the following months, the NFL would change the rules, and as of March 29th, 2022, the NFL just recently changed the rules of what will happen in overtime. Both teams will get possession. Also, if the kickoff is fumbled and results in a safety the game will end there. As they made these changes in situations like these, I believe they don’t need to fix anything else in the rules. This change will be seen in the upcoming 2022-2023 season.

Roger Fredrickson is a freshman in Mr. Lambdin’s English Class.

Solutions Showcase: Tips for Writing a Mystery

When writing a story, especially a mystery, character development is extremely important.

Writing can be very difficult, essays, book reports, but writing everything off the top of your head is even harder. Especially if you are writing a murder mystery story. You may not know how to create the murderer, the protagonist, or the supporting characters. Characters, story plots, and ways to avoid writer’s block are all keys to writing a good story.

For any story, and especially murder mysteries, characters are very important. They can be the heroes, the secret murderer, or the best friend. For the main character or protagonist, make sure to give backstory to his personality. If they are anti-social, explain if they possibly had an embarrassing incident in their life or a rough family household. If they are popular, what makes them popular, and why is their popularity is important to the story. Also determine if the story is told in first or third person, so that you can decide if the character shows his emotions straight forward, or told by a narrator.

For the murderer, make sure you know who it is ahead of time, so that you can involve them early on in the story. Explain the motive, and reason they killed someone. Maybe they had a feud with another family. Or maybe they are physiologically disturbed and don’t have a valid reason. And possibly both of those combined. In order to have a good murder mystery, you must have a good murderer.

Try to make the reader get attached to the characters. Build up the characters future. Maybe even write a cliffhanger, making them want to keep turning pages. Writing in supporting characters and “the best friend” give you ability to play around with fates. You control the pieces on the chess board, each move is up to you. Create a love story, or maybe even a character death. If a character dies, you want the reader to care and have an emotional reaction. Give a character a personality, make them funny, dark, or give them sarcastic one-liners. If the reader loves a character, events that affect that character always makes the reader more involved.

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Eventually, all of the clues ought to connect to your larger mystery story.

Story plots can be the hardest part to write. Without a good plot, you don’t have a good story. Always keep in mind the simple beginning, middle, and end theme. The way I wrote my story was by creating an outline of each chapter and the events that occur. Sometimes, outline ideas don’t always make the final cut, but will provide a general direction. When trying to figure out the storyline, think of the start and end point. Where do you want characters to end up? Does the murderer get caught, or do they manage to escape? These questions will help you along the way. Knowing the way the story ends will help guide you where you end up. The first couple chapters can start slow, dive into the characters and give them introductions. These first chapters are good to setup foreshadowing for upcoming events. They allow space for creative ways to set the scene and give a good description to what’s happening. Also, these are times to begin side storylines, like a love story or a friendship.

The middle chapters are where clues and evidence will start to unfold. Slowly the story begins to speed up into the end. This should not be the climax, but a build up for what’s coming. Include pieces of the puzzle that start to come together. Hint possible suspects for the murderer. These chapters are also a good area to involve a character death if you choose to have one.

The last chapter or chapters are where all of the pieces conjoin and the reader finds out who is the murderer. All of the writing you’ve done has led you to this point. Make sure to write suspense leading up to the big reveal. Make the reader want, or maybe even fear to turn the page. A good ending can be the best part of a story, and even can set up exciting sequels.

The reader should be able to make connections to previous clues spread throughout the story.

You will face many challenges along your writing journey. Many road blocks will delay you, and sometimes you will crash. When I wrote my piece, I was facing writers block for middle chapters. So I wrote the last chapter, giving me the ending I wanted to reach. If you face challenges like that, complete chapters you have ideas for, then fill in the ones that remain. If you are stuck and cannot think of something to write, sleep on it. When an idea comes to you, try to write it down immediately. If you wait and say, “I’ll write it when I get home.” you will forget it. Sometimes you can go weeks without knowing what to write. The best thing is try to write down anything. Word by word, then ideas will strike!

Writing a Mystery isn’t always easy. Some aspects are easy, some are hard, and some are just time consuming. Characters, story plots, and ways to avoid writer’s block are very important to writing a good story. Never ever give up because eventually the mystery will be solved!

Ethan Webber is a freshman at Mount Saint Joseph. He wrote this article as part of his Solutions Showcase project.