The victory streak continues.
For a third consecutive year, members of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga SMILE Fund (Student Managed Investment Learning Experience) were triumphant in the nationwide Channelchek Research Report College Challenge.
Gary W. Rollins College of Business students Justin Martin, Kim Hoang Do and Jackson Howard recently learned that their equity research report on A10 Networks, a U.S. public company specializing in the manufacturing of application delivery controllers, won top honors in the annual competition.
The trio’s winning report followed similar successes by Casey Szatkowski and Stephen Zurlo in 2020 and Melissa Mueller and Benjamin Trussel in 2021.
If you’re keeping score, there have been three Channelchek Research Report College Challenges, with members of the UTC SMILE Fund team winning all three years.
“I have been very pleased with the high number of gifted students we have in the UTC Rollins College of Business,” said Hunter Holzhauer, a Robert L. Maclellan and UC Foundation associate professor of finance and director of the SMILE Fund. “We have been able to stock the SMILE Fund cupboards full of talent.
“This year’s team perfectly exemplified the spirit of the SMILE Fund. They are all three brilliant students, but the ingredients to their success were determination and hard work.”
Entrants in the Channelchek Research Report College Challenge must create an equity research report on one of the 6,000-plus public small- and micro-cap companies listed on the Channelchek website. The competition is sponsored by Scripps, NASDAQ, Tribune Publishing, Salem Media Group, Kelly Services, Noble Capital Markets and NetworkNewsWire.
“I remember giving them some incredibly tough feedback on their first draft,” Holzhauer recalled, “and I wondered if they would give up. However, the next day they were all in the lab addressing every critique and comment. I’m not sure they left the lab that night. That’s when I knew these students were not the kind of students that give up.
“They came to win and they got the job done. I couldn’t be more proud of the way they have represented UTC, the Rollins College of Business and the SMILE Fund. I expect many more victory laps for each of these students in the future.”
Martin received a bachelor’s degree in finance in May and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in data analytics at UTC. The Knoxville, Tennessee, native was a chief analyst for the SMILE Fund Tech Team.
“I wasn’t sure if we could make it three in a row just because of the fact that it’s a national competition,” he said, “but I’m glad that we were able to keep the tally rolling.”
Now a SMILE Fund graduate assistant, Martin said the challenge with A10 Networks— traded as ATEN on the New York Stock Exchange—was “finding a small-cap IT company that was actually undervalued.”
“A lot of small-cap IT companies have really high valuations,” he said, “so it was attractive that A10 was a lower valuation and they were becoming profitable in the last couple of years.”
Hoang Do, who grew up in Vietnam before emigrating with her family to Ringgold, Georgia, graduated from UTC in December 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in business analytics and a minor in personal finance.
Like Martin, she’s also pursuing a master’s degree in data analytics. In addition, she is a business intelligence intern at TVA and a part-time computer science research assistant at UTC.
“We were actually really surprised that we won,” Hoang Do said with a laugh. “All of us worked really hard on this, so winning is great.”
Howard, double majoring in finance and accounting, will begin his junior year at UTC in the fall. The 2020 graduate of Boyd Buchanan School in Chattanooga is currently interning with the Lighthouse CFO Group/Noon Management.
Howard was a chief analyst in the SMILE Fund last year and is the fund’s new vice president for risk management. He could compete again next spring, but he plans on serving as a mentor for others during the next competition.
“Having this experience and learning how to do a professional report like you would in the real world gives me a leg up to help anybody that wants to further their knowledge of equity valuations,” he said.