The CFA Institute Research Challenge is a global competition which gives students the platform to prove their valuation skills in a real-world setting. On a national level all teams have to submit an equity research report on the same publicly traded company. In our case, the CFA Society Germany chose a German hidden champion in medical technology. In the competition, only the top three teams get the chance to present their results to a high-profile panel of CFA charterholders and executives from the financial industry. Finally, the winner takes it all. Winning in Germany means, that you are allowed to travel to Chicago in April 2016 to compete against teams from around the world; first in the regional challenge for EMEA and, should the team succeed in the global final. A unique opportunity!
FACING THE CHALLENGE
In November the race was on as Carl Zeiss Meditec (Meditec) was announced as target company. The CFA Society invited our team consisting of Patrick Altenried, Julian Debus, Nicolay Schmitt, Dominik Sperzel and myself, to join the company presentation held by Sebastian Frericks, Meditec’s Head of Investor Relations. At the event we met all competing teams from all over Germany. But after the relaxed initiation the tough work began. We started from scratch, without deep medical knowledge. In the beginning, we faced questions a medical doctor would normally ask but not an investment banker. Do you know what age-related macular degeneration is or how diabetes affects the eye? We did not. Having cleared the first obstacles, we were able to structure the business of the company. We defined the markets in which Meditec operates in and got a clear picture of the company’s financials.
After several weeks of hard work, long hours, uncountable meetings, skype calls and conversations, the equity research report was ready for submission. Finally! On January 6 we handed in our result, knowing that the finalists would be announced only a few weeks later. “Congratulations! We are delighted to let you know that your report was among the best three and that you are among the teams that will present in front of our jury on February 1 2016 in the CFA Institute Research Challenge Regional German Final in Frankfurt.”
The finals took place at the Frankfurt office of Bloomberg where we also met the other two finalists from TU München and RWTH Aachen. We were the first team to present in front of the CFA jury. Practicing the presentation several times, challenging each other with questions and being ready to win were prerequisites for a great performance. Everything went well. But after the last question was asked the waiting period began. Although we had the opportunity to network with each other and meet CFA charterholders and professionals, we simply couldn’t await the announcement of the winners. Later in the evening the winning team was announced, the team which would fly to Chicago and fight for EMEA and the global final: And now, we are ready to take-off!