Step 1: Pick a Stock
Stick with industries you understand. If you really enjoy shopping, look at retailers. If you’re a
Comp Sci major, pitch a software company. This will make your research a lot easier and ultimately you will deliver a better stock pitch. For example, Warren Buffett, arguably the world’s best investor, does not invest in technology companies because they are outside of his sphere of competency.
Qualitative approach: Look at the overall economy and choose a sector and industry that you think has particularly positive/negative cyclical or secular themes. Then try to choose the best/worst company in that industry.
Quantitative approach: Use arbitrary parameters to filter the overall universe of stocks (e.g. below average P/E, high revenue and earnings growth, high ROE). Yahoo! Finance and MSN Money both offer free stock screeners.
Don’t stress over this part of the process. For interviews, the execution is much more important than the idea. As long as you understand your company well and make a compelling argument, you will probably impress your interviewers—regardless of which stock you choose to pitch.
Step 2: Craft a Persuasive Pitch
There are three basic parts to an effective stock pitch: story, numbers, and valuation. The checklist below should serve as a rough guide as you begin to craft your own stock pitches over winter break.
Try to include all of the components I have listed below, but make sure you emphasize those that support your case. And don’t forget to at least briefly acknowledge risks to your thesis.
When delivering your stock pitch, note that it should act as a summary of your research/knowledge of the company. The interviewer will expect more in-depth knowledge/reasoning in the Q&A. You want to be able to have a discussion, so don’t give it all upfront!
Basic Information (example: VistaPrint)
Company name: VistaPrint
52-week range: $17.55 – $37.75
Note: This is important to know, but a stock’s past returns shouldn’t have any bearing on your decision to buy or sell over an intermediate- to long-term time horizon (i.e. > 6 months).
Market cap: $1.4B
FEP, Duke University
Last updated 12/14/11
Part A: Story
Description of business model: VistaPrint uses the Internet to provide custom printing and graphic design solutions to the SOHO (small office/home office) market.
Competitive advantage(s): 1) Compelling customer value proposition due to high quality products and lower costs; 2) significant competitive barriers to entry; and 3) a highly scalable business model.
Growth opportunities: VPRT is quickly gaining market share in a highly fragmented U.S. and
European small business print and graphic design market worth ~$19B. Potential growth opportunities include: 1) new products; 2) international expansion; 3) and an extension into the consumer market.
Catalyst(s): The introduction of new products and continued strong quarterly performance will likely increase visibility into VPRT’s growth story.
Note: If you are making a shorter-term investment recommendation, catalysts are especially important. Part B: Numbers
Earnings: EPS (earnings per share) is one of the most important determinants of a company’s share price. Make sure you know your company’s current EPS, past EPS growth rates, and consensus estimates for future EPS growth. If you can make a case for why you believe a company will grow earnings faster/slower than consensus expectations, this might be a key component of your long/short argument. But remember, if everyone expects a company to grow earnings at a very high/low rate in the future, this is not a source of opportunity because it will already be priced into the company’s shares.
Revenues: Like earnings, make sure you know how much revenue your company generates, at what rate revenue has grown in the past, and what expectations are for future revenue…