Need a hot stock tip? Ask some sixth-graders


The Mirror

For advice about the stock market, folks might want to look to an unlikely source — Mary Watts’ sixth-grade class at Saghalie Middle School.

Stocks in GameStop, a video game retailer, were bound to go up, the children predicted last fall. The market is good. Kids like video games.

Kids also like new electronic gadgets from Apple, like the iPod and the iPhone. And they like school supplies, like those sold at Staples office supply stores.

So when given a selection of 25 mock stocks to choose from for a nationwide contest, the class invested in GameStop, Apple and Staples.

They were right. The stocks went up 23.9 percent — a huge gain. Standard and Poor’s 500 Index went up 2.38 percent during that time.

The team took fourth place among 99 teams in the Smith Barney’s Take Your Parents To Work Day Stock Portfolio Contest.

“I was really excited about it. I was thrilled to see we were beating high schools and seniors even though we were only in sixth grade,” said sixth-grader Kylie Fisher.

The children chose their stocks based on research of the past five years, newspapers, MSN ratings and a bit of their own intuition.

“A lot of the people in the class like to play video games, and so the boys wanted to pick that,” said sixth-grader Krystyne Durham-Knight.

GameStop and Apple were good stock choices, the class agreed, though the Staples stock kept the team from finishing in first place.

It would have been beneficial to consider the seasons when picking stocks, sixth-grader Brooke Chapman said. School supplies are a good choice for fall, but not so much for spring, she said.

Looking back, Chapman said the class should have chosen Caterpillar construction equipment and Nutrisystem weight-loss products.

“Right around spring, people want to lose weight,” she said. And construction business booms during spring and summer months, she added.

The contest-winning team invested in Nutrisystem and Caterpillar.

Some of the students were so enthusiastic about their success, they are lobbying their parents to buy them real stocks.

“I’ve been bugging my dad about that. He keeps saying maybe in a year or two years,” sixth-grader Kyle Tanemura said.

The process for choosing a stock involves lots of research and some intuition, Fisher said. In the end, it all comes down to a “strong guess,” she concluded.

“They amazed me,” Watts said of her students.

“The kids were awesome. Like little professionals.”

Contact Margo Horner: or (253) 925-5565.

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