eCornell’s Evaluating Stocks Course Furthers Cornell’s Investing Offerings

by Susan Hu

By: Staff
Close up of a stock ticker with red and green numbers.

Close up of a stock ticker.

How do you learn to pick a stock in a rigorous and disciplined fashion if you are no longer enrolled in school full-time?

Due to high demand, eCornell took on the challenge of answering this question and reached out to the SC Johnson College of Business. Scott Stewart, CFA, MBA ’83, PhD ’85, clinical professor of finance and accounting and academic co-director of the Parker Center for Investment Research, designed an online course that can be completed from anywhere in the world with a flexible schedule. Taking the framework of the Parker Center’s Stock Pitch Camp, a summer seminar that introduces the basics of fundamental investment research, Stewart transformed the experience into an intensive two-week course, Evaluating Stocks, open to anyone interested in learning the fundamentals of picking a stock.

During the course, participants are asked to select a stock and research it using company information, financial data, and online resources. They are taught to draw preliminary business conclusions about a stock, practice basic valuation to decide if the stock is a “buy,” and make a written recommendation on whether to pursue further research or pass.

The online course was launched in January 2022 as part of an Investment Strategies Certificate program. Several participants shared their experiences and takeaways from the course.

Cornell Alum Seeking to Grow Family Funds

Nancy Wu ’91, MFS ’93 lives in Santa Monica, CA. At Cornell, she studied nutritional sciences and food science, and upon graduation, she primarily worked in the food industry, engaging in product development and sensory evaluation. After her third child, she stepped away from the workforce and began volunteering, slowly taking on treasurer roles. Now that her children are older, Wu constantly seeks learning opportunities. Recently, she’s been interested in learning more about investing to grow money for her family. This interest ultimately led her to the Evaluating Stocks course.

Prior to finding this course, Wu was not aware that Cornell offered online courses and certificates through eCornell. She was used to taking classes offered locally, but when she experienced difficulty finding one on picking stocks, she resorted to an online search. While a few different options appeared, Wu naturally went with her alma mater.

The subject was new to her. Before, she’d invested using an index fund, a passive process: You put the money in a fully diversified portfolio and let it sit. Wu hoped to gain skills to become more proactive. There were assignments to submit, including two videos—one pitching the selected stock and one giving an evaluation of the company—and Wu found the feedback from Tom Walsh, the course facilitator, to be very helpful. Wu was so absorbed by what she was learning that she went even further than the assignment called for in researching her stock.

She explained that the course was a good start because it taught her what to look up—for example, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s 10-K report, a trove of good information about a company—and how to make informed choices. “I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected,” she said, adding that it was one of her favorite online classes. She recommends the class to others interested in learning about investing. Though the two-week course is challenging, it is definitely doable, she said.

Currently, Wu is still following the stock she chose for the course and is looking into a second eCornell course, Portfolio Management Essentials.

Retiree Expands Her Role in Investment Strategy

Pratibha Reebye, a retired pediatric psychiatrist and clinical professor emerita from the University of British Columbia, owns a small business in rental accommodation and retains an advisor who manages her retirement funds. Reebye has always been detail-oriented and wanted to gain a better understanding of her asset allocation and have more control over her investments.

She said the course was well designed, and she liked the approach Stewart took in explaining the fundamentals rather than diving into details that were too advanced.

It’s still too early for Reebye to measure the long-term results of her stock-picking skills, but she can say for certain that financial news does not intimidate her anymore, and she can now confidently approach her financial advisor to discuss her funds. “Previously, I thought they had all the knowledge,” she said. “Now I speak their language.”

For those interested in learning about selecting stocks, Reebye has the following advice: “If you want to learn from top professors and top-notch courses, then you have to go for Cornell.” She ran across some free courses, but she didn’t consider them. “I went for the best.”

Testing Passion and Building Investing Skills for the Future

Sammy Atri Salame, 30, has spent the past 10 years working for his family business in Mexico City, manufacturing house cleaning products. He has always been interested in finance and investing and dreamed about one day starting an investment fund.

Having earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration in the United States with a focus on management, Salame also took some finance courses. However, he wanted to know more. In 2023, Salame began searching for an online course on evaluating stocks. He found a few options offered by top US universities, but after reviewing the course information for each, he selected the Cornell course—the only one that focused on hands-on stock-picking.

The course made him think. He had a lot of questions upon starting it and said he often lay awake at night pondering them. Ultimately, the course proved to Salame that he truly is passionate about investing. “I would highly recommend the course,” he says. Salame advises those taking the course to read the materials carefully and take time to process them.

Since finishing the course, Salame hopes to invest on his own first, then invite family members and friends to invest with him, and once he’s achieved positive results, he plans to translate it to his family business.

Furthering Cornell’s Offerings in Investing

Cornell offers opportunities across campus for students to expand their understanding of investing, whether learning about securities analysis and asset management in the public markets through the Parker Center for Investment Research; pursuing an education in private equity and venture capital at the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management; studying real estate investing through the Center for Real Estate and Finance and the Baker Program in Real Estate at the Cornell Nolan School of Hotel Administration; learning financial engineering atCornell Financial Engineering Manhattan; or forming industry connections through hosted events.

In 2019, the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business established the interdisciplinary theme Investing at Cornell to connect faculty and students across the college and Cornell University who are interested in studying, researching, and working in the field of investments.

The Evaluating Stocks eCornell course adds to a rich array of offerings in the field and provides education for those beyond the university community. The course has been popular on the eCornell platform, with more than 350 participants to date.