The ninth annual Investec Wealth & Investment/Business Telegraph Schools Share Race is well underway. The 35 teams have each invested a fictional £100,000 in a portfolio of shares selected from the FTSE 350 Index.
A variety of stocks have been selected from the 350 available. In total 117 different shares have been picked - ie, 33% of the constituents in the Index. Amazingly, food retailing giant Tesco features most prominently for the fourth year in a row, having been included in the portfolios of 11 of the schools taking part. BSkyB, Debenhams, BP and Sainsbury's also appear in many of the initial selections.
Interestingly almost three quarters of the schools have decided to invest their total allocation of £100,000 at the outset of the competition whilst the others have decided to hold back some cash, no doubt hoping for an opportunity later on to buy "lower down".
Last year's competition saw some extremely volatile trading conditions and this year looks like being no different when one considers the ups and downs we have seen in the market over recent months.
Early pace-setters in this year's contest, as at the end of Week One, are the pupils of Royal Belfast Academical Institution. They boast an impressive 12.7% positive return, having invested all their money at the outset. St Patrick's Grammar, Downpatrick lead the chasing pack in what promises to be a most keenly contested battle for top spot come mid-February. Over the course of the first week's trading the FTSE 350 index increased in value by 4% as markets responded positively to news that European leaders had taken steps to solve the long-standing issue of sovereign debt.
The teams will no doubt be monitoring the performance of their investments closely in the coming weeks as they will have an opportunity at the end of November to change their holdings by banking good profits or, alternatively, cutting losses!
Brian Craig of Investec will be running the Schools Share Race. So watch the markets in the coming weeks