Attention plan sponsors: looking for someone who can turn a quick profit? You might want to contact University of Texas-Austin graduate student Patrick Christmas.
Mr. Christmas recently took home the top prize in the first electronic trading Olympiad, sponsored by electronic brokerage firm Interactive Brokers Group, Greenwich, Conn., by taking $100,000 in "phantom" money and turning it into $220,000 in 10 weeks.
"Given a 10-week time frame, you needed to be fairly aggressive, to go after volatile stocks," Mr. Christmas said in an interview. He said he wrote a computer program that would identify stocks with "massive" price movements that would likely reverse quickly, as well as others that traded on big volume.
"I think — as I always think when playing the stock market — it's gambling. But there was some merit to my ideas, although they weren't perfect," he said. "I got lucky in the first week and one of my stocks tripled. I was out of town at the time, and when I got back, it had only doubled."
For his efforts, Mr. Christmas earned $50,000 in cash, part of which he said he would probably use to play the market some more. The university also received a $50,000 donation from Interactive Brokers.
Steve Sanders, managing director of business development and marketing at Interactive Brokers, said the firm held the contest to highlight the need for computer science professionals in financial services. "As the hedge funds have boomed in the last few years, there's even more competition for the best technology people," he said.