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2011 Proves A Challenge to TVA Student Investors

April 20, 2011

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – College students in the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Investment Challenge Program found profits hard to come by in 2011, but several teams still outperformed Wall Street, earning valuable experience for themselves and money for their schools.

The Investment Challenge is a unique partnership between TVA and 25 universities in the TVA service territory that provides students with hands-on experience managing a real stock portfolio for the power provider.

Over a calendar year, teams of students manage an average of $365,000 of TVA funds per school, by designing long-term investment strategies under the guidance of faculty members. That includes analyzing companies, buying and selling stocks and tracking the risks and returns. The universities operate under similar guidelines as TVA’s own professional investment managers.

“The TVA Investment Challenge is a creative use of our resources that offers experience and training for the region’s next generation of financial leaders, while also benefitting TVA,” said TVA Senior Vice President and Treasurer John Hoskins.

Eleven of the 25 universities beat the 2.11 percent gain for 2011 by Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, a key Wall Street barometer. Combined, the students had a 0.2 percent return on investment for the volatile year.

The Mississippi University for Women was the top performer with a 14.94 percent return, followed by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, 6.81 percent, and the University of Kentucky, 5.13 percent. The Mississippi school’s previous best performance was third place in 2008. For more information about the program, see

Part of TVA’s Nuclear Decommissioning Trust Fund, the program’s investment pool today is about $10 million, or about 1 percent of the more than $1 billion invested in the decommissioning fund dedicated to retiring TVA nuclear plants.

TVA provided $1.9 million from the trust to start the program in 1998. In 2003, after the program demonstrated that student-managed portfolios performed competitively against their performance benchmark, TVA provided an additional $8 million and added six new schools to bring the total to 25.

“The Investment Challenge is not a simulation. This is real money that we’ll use one day to decommission our nuclear plants,” Hoskins said. “These students are part of TVA’s financial success and are making an important contribution to meeting our future commitments.”

Universities receive monetary awards based on the amount of assets they managed and the rate of returns. TVA awarded more than $26,000 in prizes in 2011.

Other participating schools are: Alabama A&M University, Austin Peay State University, Belmont University, Christian Brothers University, Murray State University, Tennessee State University, Tennessee Tech University, University of Mississippi, University of North Alabama, East Tennessee State University, Lipscomb University,  Middle Tennessee State University, Mississippi State University, Trevecca Nazarene University, Union University, University of Alabama at Huntsville, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, University of Tennessee at Martin, Vanderbilt University, Western Carolina University, Western Kentucky University and University of Memphis.

The Tennessee Valley Authority, a corporation owned by the U.S. government, provides electricity for business customers and distribution utilities that serve 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states at prices below the national average. TVA, which receives no taxpayer money and makes no profits, also provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists utilities and state and local governments with economic development.

Media Contact

Duncan Mansfield, Knoxville, (865) 632-4660
TVA Media Relations, Knoxville, (865) 632-6000

TVA Newsroom


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