UNLV finance students win competition for restaurant study

Four students from UNLV’s Lee Business School took first place in a competition that tested their ability to gauge the profitability of a restaurant.

The students won the top honor in the first round of the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute Research Challenge, an international competition that tests finance students on their ability to do financial analyses.

The UNLV team included Sean Skinner, Elias Shliyan, Warren Stender and Jeffery Zemp. It was the second consecutive year that UNLV took first place.

“This shows that students at UNLV can compete with anyone in the world,” said Paul Thistle, chairman of UNLV's finance department.

The team analyzed the profitability of Kona Grill, a restaurant in Summerlin. They first submitted a written report examining the economic prospects of the business, then defended their findings to a panel of judges.

Based on state and national economy data and the restaurant’s market share, the students determined that Kona Grill is undervalued and shares of the restaurant should be bought.

The team’s entry impressed the judges enough that they were given a pass to the next round — a regional competition March 20-21 in Toronto.

“It feels good,” Shliyan said. “I’m not really surprised. I was very confident in our work, and we worked really hard.”

If the team finishes in the top four at the Americas Regional, they will advance to be one of 16 squads to compete in the Global Final against teams from New York, Asia and Europe.

“We’re confident about our product,” Skinner said. “We just need to practice more, and we’ll have a good chance.”

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