Topic outline

  • Research Analyst Report - Group Assignment

    A. The Setting

    For the group assignment, you (as a team - pick your team here if you have not already done so) assume the role of an independent equity research analyst. The assignment follows the same structure and goals as the CFA Institute Research Challenge. This means that it is very close to practice, giving you hands-on experience of what it is to be an equity research analyst and some anecdotes for prospective job interviews in the industry. 

    As part of an equity research analyst team, you are asked to develop an equity analyst research report on a company that is publicly listed in Finland, Sweden, or Denmark. The choice of company is up to you and can for example reflect your team's industry experience (if applicable).  

    B. The Deliverable

    You are asked to deliver an equity analyst report according to industry standards (subject to your potentially limited industry experience). The assignment should follow the CFA Institute's Equity Research Essentials guide and fulfill the following requirements. 

    Reading Assignment B.1.: Read the CFA Institute's Equity Research Essentials guide

    The equity research report MUST include the following: 

    • Subject company name and ticker symbol
    • Subject company industry
    • Recommendation (buy/sell/hold)
    • Current price (date)
    • Target price (% increase/decrease)
    • Highlights

    and be structured according to the following sections and subsections 

    • Section 1
      • Recommendation
      • Business description (5)
      • Industry overview and competitive positioning (15)
    • Section 2
      • Investment summary (20)
      • Corporate governance (5)
    • Section 3
      • Financial analysis (25)
    • Section 4
      • Investment risks (10)
      • Valuation (20)

    The report MUST NOT contain your names and student numbers. Doing so will result in an automatic down-grading of the assignment grade (from the weight of 35% to 30%) as it prevents anonymous peer assessment. 

    The equity research report must be submitted in PDF format accompanied by your valuation excel file in excel format (in total two files, a PDF and an excel file) by October 16th 2020, at 14:00 and accounts for 35% of the final course grade. The document should contain about 15 pages on A4-sized paper (the exact number of pages is not important, but the content is!). Please submit the assignment through the assignment activity.

    You may use any publicly available information on the case company. Those include, but are not limited to, company (and its competitor) financial statements, press releases, executive and personnel interviews, as well as information aggregators’ reports.

    For further inspiration on how the deliverable can fulfill the guidelines please also see Yale University's published student analyst reports, which resemble your delivery quite a bit or the CFA Research Challange previous' winner or an example of an excellent previous report submitted in this course. 

    Reading Assignment B.2.: Read at least two of Yale University's published student analyst reports

    Reading Assignment B.3.: Read the report of CFA Research Challenge previous' winner 

    Reading Assignment B.4.: Read the excellent previous report submitted in this course

    C. The Evaluation

    Financial analysts do not work in a vacuum but do have access to other analysts' reports. As part of this realization, they regularly stay updated on what other analysts they might follow publish in terms of valuations and appraise those evaluations. Implicitly, they formulate an opinion of those analysts and rank them for future reference and potential collaborations. 

    To replicate this practice, and give you exposure to other teams' work (presentations are not possible in this asynchronous summer format) you (individually) will be asked to peer assess two other groups' work as part of this case assignment. Your evaluations have to be well-founded and fair. You will have three days to submit those evaluations. After all, submissions arrived, the instructors will perform their own assessments to gauge whether the assessments were in line with the report quality. 

    The evaluation will take place through the assignment activity where you submitted the assignment. 

    Please note, that peer assessment is an essential part of your work life. You will from early on be asked to assess your subordinates and superiors. Providing well-justified assessments signals your leadership capabilities to both groups of assessees and will contribute to your career advancement. Peer-assessment is, however, not easy. Conflicts of interest might prevent honest assessment and the more experience you have the better you will be. Take this exercise as one learning opportunity to be better at the task of peer assessment. 

    D. Your Integrity

    As an equity research analyst, your success is largely dependent on your reputation, which is both grounded in professional expertise and your integrity. While experience only builds slowly, you can already work on your integrity by delivering honest work. And, while you might have spent a career building your expertise, a founded doubt of your professional integrity can result in an immediate end to the former. 

    Being transparent in where your information comes from is a start. Sourced information should be properly cited using a generally accepted citation system (see, the Aalto University Citation Guide). The investment recommendation should be based on the evidence provided in the report. The written report should reflect both the dedication of team members and the intelligence they bring to their work. 

    That is, analyses should be their own and teams may not copy analysis (plagiarize*) from another source into their written reports or presentations. If in doubt about the severity of plagiarism please review the Aalto University Code of Academic Integrity and Handling Violations Thereof (sections 3 and 4). Teams found guilty of plagiarism will by the standard Aalto process be brought forward to the dean, who will in turn judge the appropriate sanction.

    * Plagiarism is defined as copying or using in substantially the same form materials prepared by others without acknowledging the source of the material or identifying the author and publisher of such material. Teams may a) use excerpts from articles or reports prepared by others (either verbatim or with only slight changes in wording) with acknowledgment; b) cite specific quotations as attributable to “leading analysts” and “investment experts” by naming the specific references; and c) present statistical estimates of forecasts, charts, and graphs prepared by others with stating the source. (CFA Institute 2017)

    E. Your Career?

    Did you like what you were doing? Could you imagine a career as a financial analyst? Tune into the following playlist to see our experts' thoughts in a career in valuation! 

    Moreover, the actual (and wannabe) financial analyst is up to date with financial news. To get a job offer, most of the time you will also be tested for your interested in financial markets and how literate you are in terms of financial news. The is a arguably the best source for such information, providing you a balanced picture, analysis and investigative journalism. Through Aalto you have the opportunity to get free access to the online premium edition. I would suggest you make use of it as soon as possible to get yourself an edge over other applications. See here, for how you get access through Aalto.


    Exercise 1 - Group Assignment: Case Trivago.

    Exercise 2 - Individual Assignment: Valuation of Judy Choi's business

    Exercise 3 - Individual Assignment: Valuation 

    • Workshop icon
      Research Analyst Report - Group Assignment Workshop
      Not available unless: The activity Integrity Check - Unlocks Assignment Submission and Grading Rubric is complete and passed

      Assessment is done according to the rubric. An excellent report should orient itself at the example reports provided in the Group Assignment section. 

      Every group assesses three other reports. The assessment has to be done through the person who submitted the reports (MyCourses system limitation). 

      Peer-assessment is an essential work-life skill. In consulting for example you are to peer-assess your peers and superiors from the first project onwards. If you are unable to diligently apply a rubric while assessing you might make a fool out of yourself and slow your career. In most other company settings, peer assessment will be part of your task portfolio once you have any kind of management responsibility. As a result, please take this as serious as any other skill you hoped to take from your course. 

      Moreover, it is useful and important that you see the work of your fellow study companions. Usually one gets new ideas and can form a rounder skill set if one sees other people's work.

      I will check all assessments and provide my own assessment of your work. If you fail to deliver a proper peer assessment points will be deducted from your groupwork. This step is necessary so every group benefits from fair and proper assessment and there are not free riders. 

    • This group exercise accounts for 5% of the course grade. Please use Trivago Form 20-F (annual report) and other sources to answer the following questions. To find Trivago’s Consolidated Financial Statements from the annual report (Form 20-F), click ‘Index to financial statements’. Please use the same group as in the upcoming analyst report assignment. Only one group member submits the answers. At the end of the course, all group members will get the same grade. Submission deadline is September 17th at 14:00. 

      Trivago logo

    • Receive a grade

      This exercise accounts for 5% of the course grade.

      Note: This is an INDIVIDUAL assignment, and shall absolutely not be completed in groups or any other composition of more persons than yourself.

      The deadline for this Graded Assigment is October 1st, 14:00.


      Judy Choi is thinking about starting a truck rental business. She plans to buy four trucks now and to then add a fifth truck at the end of the second year. Each truck will cost $20,000. Judy has carefully evaluated the local market for rental trucks and believes that each truck will generate $5,000 of net operating cash flow each year. At the end of five years, she believes the trucks can be sold for $30,000 in total.

      Additional information:

      • Choi will put $80,000 cash into the business. This amount represents beginning equity.

      • The company will pay out all excess cash as dividends each year. The cash needed to buy the truck in Year 2 will come from operating cash flows that year. No new investment will be required.

      • Truck depreciation is $3,043.48 per truck per year, which results in the trucks having a book value of $30,000, the expected salvage value, at the end of Year 5.

      • The appropriate discount rate is 10%.


      How much is the business worth? You can compute the value of equity using the simple dividend discount model or using the abnormal earnings approach (i.e. residual income valuation model). Please use Exercise 2 Template * in performing your calculations and enter your answers into the following quiz. Start the quiz by selecting "Attempt quiz now".

      * In case the link to the excel template would not work, please find the same template from Module III page.

      Voluntary work

      If you use abnormal earnings approach then calculate the value for different scenarios:

      1. The company makes an impairment write-off of $20,000 in Year 2.

      2. The company makes an impairment write-off of $20,000 in Year 3.

      Hint: make required adjustments for subsequent depreciation.

    • Please use the attached template for your Exercise 2 calculations!

    • Receive a grade

      This exercise accounts for 5% of the course grade.

      Please see the assignment description Exercise 3 Description! 

      Start the graded assignment by filling out your calculations in the attached Exercise 3 Template and thereafter submit your answers by selecting "Attempt quiz now".

      Note: This is an INDIVIDUAL assignment, and shall absolutely not be completed in groups or any other composition of more persons than yourself.

      The deadline for this Graded Assigment is October 8th, 14:00.