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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Ram Fund rolls along in fourth year

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

Student investors becoming more sophisticated

KINGSTON, R.I. -- June 22, 2005 -- The Ram Fund, an investment portfolio managed by University of Rhode Island College of Business Administration students, just celebrated completion of its fourth year.

And if remarks from students, faculty members and the Ram Fund Advisory Board are any indication, the program continues to get stronger.

Among some of the companies students analyzed this year were Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc., American Power Conversion and TJX Companies Inc., the parent of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, names synonymous with American business muscle. As they have done from the program’s start, the students presented their findings and investment decisions to the advisory board and the Alumni Association in late spring.

Established in the spring of 2001 with $100,000 in seed money from the Alumni Association, the program’s goal is to give advanced business students the opportunity to invest and manage money for the long term. Each year, students compete for various positions in the Ram Fund.

Last year, the Ram Fund Advisory Board was established to provide information, encouragement, advice and access to ideas and opportunities that might otherwise be unavailable to the students.

“Students place this very high on their list of top experiences at URI,” said Business Dean Edward M. Mazze. “Each year when students present, I see individuals taking notes, hoping that they will get some valuable tips.”

Throughout the evening, Mazze, board members and students praised Assistant Professor of Business David Michayluk for his outstanding direction of the program over the past few years. They also said goodbye as Michayluk was preparing to leave for a job in Australia.

Mark Dorcus, a Ram Fund Advisory Board member and student mentor, said he was impressed with the students’ willingness to examine new businesses as well as established companies.

Board member Thomas Fay said, “These are the best presentations I have seen in two years here.”

Adam Oliveri, an economics major and business minor who graduated in May, headed a team that analyzed Medis Technologies Ltd., a joint venture with Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd., that focuses on developing, manufacturing, marketing and distributing direct liquid fuel cell products to power and charge portable electronic devices.

“I had no idea what a fuel cell was until I started this project,” said Oliveri, a resident of Elysburg, Pa.

Soon, he knew about the company’s management team, the potential for mass production and sales. He also traveled to New York City on his own to view a demonstration of one of the company’s power packs. He was there in Times Square rubbing shoulders with investors, company leaders and inventors.

“I guess there were about 500 people there,” Oliveri said. “With the Ram Fund, I really learned how to apply the theory that I learned in class.

“One of the central questions with this company was whether it could take its demo model to full scale mass production. I had a feeling it could and it looks like I’ll be right,” he said a few weeks after his formal presentation. “And if it’s of any interest, Medis Technologies Ltd. is up about 18 percent since we bought it at the end of March.”

Ram Fund member Patty Scott, a resident of North Kingstown, had similar feelings about the program. “This class is one of the best I have taken and I am really indebted to the Alumni Association for providing this experience,” said Scott, who headed a team that analyzed J2 Global Communications Inc., a Santa Clara-based company that provides messaging and communications to 7.6 million customers.

To understand the company better and the wider industry, Scott, a non-matriculating student, called a few stock analysts and she got lucky. “One talked off the record and said he was bullish on the stock.”

The Rhode Island College graduate and reconciliation manager in the URI controller’s office, said the Ram Fund class has heightened her interest in pursuing a master of business administration degree at URI.

“This class just energized me,” she said.