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This past semester, Bryant University's student-run Archway Investment Fund, made up of The Archway Equity Portfolio, the Archway Fixed Income Portfolio, and the Digital Innovation Fun, passed the $3 million mark.
The spring in 5 trades: Archway’s student portfolio managers share successes in landmark year
Jun 13, 2024, by Stephen Kostrzewa

There’s no better learning tool than experience, and experience is most useful when it’s coupled with responsibility. Bryant University’s Archway Investment Fund (AIF) provides students with the opportunity to manage a sizeable investment portfolio by combining the lessons taught in the Finance Department curriculum with the processes employed by practicing investment professionals.

Initially launched as U.S. equity fund with $200,000 in 2005, Bryant’s Archway Investment Fund has grown into a multi-asset program with three distinct components: The Archway Equity Portfolio, the Archway Fixed Income Portfolio, and the Digital Innovation Fund. This past semester, the AIF reached an incredible milestone when it passed the $3 million mark — the work of nearly two decades of highly dedicated student portfolio managers and faculty advisors.

That history is not lost on the students. “One of the first things we cover in class is who are stakeholders are: The people who granted us this endowment to begin with and the alumni who have been through it and paved the way for us,” notes Hunter Edwards ’24. “It makes you want to maintain this portfolio, to grow it, and to make sure it lives forever. One day, if my child comes to Bryant, they can say, ‘Yeah, my dad was responsible for energy, materials, and utility stocks 25 years ago.’ And I hope they makes their own contribution as well.”

Below, dig into the semester’s top trades from AIF’s Equity Portfolio:

The Carlyle Group 
JohnHenry Dyroff ’24 was in the team responsible for the AIF’s Financials and Real Estate holdings. This was a great opportunity, he says, for someone fascinated with how the finance industry works.

“That is one of the sectors that everything comes through,” he points out. “I knew I wanted to work in a financial institution when I finished school, so I wanted to have a really strong understanding of the business.”

Bryant University Spring Archway Investment Portfolio portfolio managers
This spring, the portfolio managers for The Archway Investment Fund's Equity portfolio made trades across a variety of sectors, from technology to healthcare.

That industry knowledge his team acquired culminated with their choice to invest in The Carlyle Group Inc. (NASDAQ: CG), a multinational private equity, alternative asset management, and financial services firm that specializes in private equity, real assets, and private credit. It was the AIF’s first foray into alternative investments — increasingly popular financial assets that do not belong to conventional investment categories such as stocks, bonds or cash — Dyroff notes.

“Archway gives you a fuller view. And that allows you to have more confidence in your projections.”

“There's been a huge and growing trend toward allocations to alternatives in institutional portfolio — it's supposed to grow at a roughly double digits growth rates up through 2030 — and Carlyle is one of the leaders in the industry,” he says.

Paradoxically, the team was also drawn in by a recent lack of success. “Carlyle had actually been underperforming some of its peers lately,” he admits, but the history of the sector and the company’s financials told a different story.  “We thought that they were actually undervalued — and due for a comeback.”

Learning to see the big picture is one of the biggest benefits of the AIF, he says — one he’s taking with him to his new job as an investments analyst at Global Atlantic Financial Group. “Archway gives you a fuller view,” he says. “And that allows you to have more confidence in your projections.”

During her time as a portfolio manager, Grace Sullivan ’24 worked in the Communication Services sector team. “When I was looking at the different sectors, I wanted to work in one I was comfortable with, and Communication Services is an area with so many major players that we’ve all heard of — companies like Google, Meta, Netflix, and The Walt Disney Company — but it’s also a really broad sector as well, so you can look at a lot of different things,” she explains.

It was the research her group conducted as security analysts in the first course of the two-course AIF sequence that supported their work as portfolio managers — and led to their decision to invest in T-Mobile (NASDAQ: TMUS), the third-largest wireless carrier in the United States. “We had prior knowledge,” Sullivan acknowledges. “We knew that their financials were good, and they've been very successful in the past couple years.”

T-Mobile, she says, also allowed them to diversify their holdings. “Before our semester with Archway, we did not have any holdings in the telecom industry,” Sullivan states. “T-Mobile has been basically dominating the wireless telecom industry against their competitors, AT&T and Verizon, and they’re currently the leading provider of 5G.”

“I would say just do your research; the best thing you can be is up to date.”

Branching out not only made the fund more versatile, it also allowed them to explore new frontiers. “You can't just throw all of your eggs in one basket and hope that one stock goes booming. You want to make sure that you have a wide spread of different companies,” says Sullivan.

The team was also enthusiastic about the company’s future as well, including recent advancements in areas like “network slicing,” and their potential to roll out sixth generation wireless technology.

Looking back, Sullivan’s advice to the next generation of AIF portfolio managers is simple: “I would say just do your research; the best thing you can be is up to date.” That’s advice she’s taking to heart as she joins Manulife/John Hancock’s Global Wealth and Asset Management program as an investment operations analyst. “It’s such a large, diversified company where you can make so many connections,” she says. “I’m excited to be learning more.”

Cement Roadstone Holdings 
Hunter Edwards ’24 was in the sector team focused on Energy, Materials, and Utilities. “There’s so much there to work with; it’s a fantastic grouping of companies,” he enthuses.

His team chose to invest in the construction materials space, and to put their money into Cement Roadstone Holdings (NYSE: CRH), a leading provider of building materials solutions that manufactures and supplies a wide range of products for the construction industry. “CRH is one of the largest asphalt and paving companies with operation in the United States and.  Our financial analysis indicated that the company was undervalued versus its peers,” he says.

Part of their calculus involved the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a sweeping piece of legislation that authorized $1.2 trillion for transportation and infrastructure spending. As an industry leader, Edwards’s team reasoned, CRH would be a key player in the act’s continuing work. An analysis of the company’s liquidity, including a significant share repurchasing program, lent further weight to their decision.

“In the end, every investment is a little bit speculative. I can’t wait to see what’s next.”

Despite his team’s enthusiasm for the company, however, they didn’t let that creep into their valuation. “Even though we were bullish on the stock, we wanted to provide a conservative outlook,” notes Edwards. “I'd rather undersell and overdeliver. I think that's the best way to go about it.”

Still though, he can’t help but admit to watching the company’s future performance with excitement, even though he’s moved on to working at Land, Peterson, and Mann, a private wealth advisory practice. “In the end, every investment is a little bit speculative,” he says. “I can’t wait to see what’s next.”

Applied Materials Inc. 
Aastha Soni ’24’s team specialized in the Technology sector. It was an area, she acknowledges, that she didn’t know a great deal about at first. “Now I can walk you through the whole process of how a semiconductor chip is manufactured,” Soni says with a laugh.

It was in those tiny chips that her team found inspiration. Noting the recent all-in approach to artificial intelligence taken by the world’s leading technology companies — as well as legislation like the CHIPS and Science Act, which designated $280 billion to bolster US semiconductor capacity, catalyze R&D, and create regional high-tech hubs for a bigger, more inclusive STEM workforce — they chose to invest in Applied Materials, Inc (NASDAQ: AMAT). The company supplies equipment, services, and software for flat-panel displays for computers, smartphones, televisions, and solar products — and the manufacture of semiconductor chips.

“When you make new connections, you just don’t learn new things; you explore new possibilities.”

“We decided to go the sources,” she says, “We wanted to invest in a company that makes semiconductor production possible.” Plus, she notes, as AI chips are getting more and more advanced, there’s always going to be a need for a new type of chip.

For someone who hadn’t planned to study finance, Soni now feels empowered as she prepares to begin her job as a securities services program analyst at J.P. Morgan. “I think what I’m most excited about is the opportunity to meet new people,” she says. “When you make new connections, you just don’t learn new things; you explore new possibilities.”

General Electric Healthcare Technologies, Inc. 
Elizabeth Carter ’25 was assigned to the Healthcare sector, a diverse area made up of many different industries — from pharmaceuticals and devices to health insurers and hospitals. “Healthcare is something that people are always going to need,” she notes, making it a little bit stable, even in downturns.

But that doesn’t mean the sector is stagnant, Carter learned. “Nobody really saw Ozempic coming,” she chuckles, referring to the blockbuster weight loss drug that has become all the rage and paid huge dividends for Novo Nordisk.

In analyzing the field, her team’s eyes were caught by a newcomer, General Electric Healthcare Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: GEHC), which provides digital infrastructure, data analytics, and decision support tools that assist with the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of patients. The company spun off from its parent in January of 2023 and Carter’s team saw a bright future for the young stock, as well as its reputable pedigree.

"I don’t just know the textbook definition of what they do; I know what it’s really like."

"They’re very involved in the medical device space — an area we didn’t have much investment in but wanted to be in,” she says. In addition, the company had already formed advantageous partnerships with companies like NVIDIA, one of the world’s largest tech companies, and seemed poised to make exciting breakthroughs in several different areas.

Her team’s big test came when they had to present their recommendation to the entire class for a final vote. “We were a little afraid we wouldn't get the votes because it was a newer company, so there was a lot of anxiety,” Carter admits. “But I ran the voting for my semester, so I was watching all the numbers come through and texted my team as soon as I found out it was approved.

“It was a really good feeling when we put the buy order in the next day,” she says with satisfaction.

As a junior, Carter still has a year left at Bryant. But she’s already excited about the future, including her summer internship with State Street Global Advisors’ cash team. “Archway really sets you up so well for your future,” she says. “I’m still in college but I’m able to participate in conversations with actual portfolio managers now and know firsthand what they're talking about. I don’t just know the textbook definition of what they do; I know what it’s really like.” 

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