Wednesday, June 27, 2007

14-yr-old Investment Guru

He lives in NY and is homeschooled. Great story! You can read the full article here. This is the beginning:

Brandon Conley opens his weekly Wednesday 7:30 a.m. conference call with a briefing of news items affecting the portfolio of his fund, Mariner Investment Advisers.

Japan's economy has signs of slowing. IBM is increasing its presence in China. Halliburton is considering a stock listing in Dubai. Listening in on the call are his investment analysts, 17-year-old David White-Goode and 13-year-old Jeremy Hitotsubashi. Brandon himself is 14. David, who covers the defense and aeronautics industry, gives an update on Northrop Grumman, emphasizing its strong position as a shipbuilder. His recommendation: A buy.

"What price are we looking at?" Brandon asks. "Eighty-five dollars? Or are we looking higher, around the trading range for Boeing or Lockheed?"

"Eighty-five a share," David responds.

Brandon and his crew are hardly the first teenage market junkies to come along, but their story suggests that some child investors are now hitting a new level of sophistication, and, sometimes, obsession. Brandon has taken on many of the conventions of a professional investment fund. He and his staff are raising money from outside investors, developing relationships with companies, and even speaking up at shareholder meetings. He even shorted some stocks right before a February stock-market decline.

Brandon got the idea to start the fund in November when he took a financial-literacy course. As part of the program, he and other students had to develop their own business plans. One student wanted to open a skateboard shop. Brandon, who became interested in markets with a virtual-reality game called Neopets and was setting up mock stock portfolios by the age of 12, wanted to start his own investment fund. "It blew me away," says Jay Ellis, a regional manager of Washington Mutual in Manhattan and the course instructor.

In six months, Brandon says he has increased the value of his fund -- which consists of money he earned fixing neighbors' computers and contributions from his uncles -- by some 30%, to about $5,000.

Because he is being home schooled, Brandon can adjust his schedule to attend investor meetings, as he did recently, hopping on a subway with his father to hear London-based billionaire Lakshmi Mittal, chief executive of Mittal Steel, at the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan. Mr. Mittal was meeting with some analysts and about 100 investors.

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