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Prerequisites: (VSB 2020 and VSB 2009 or VSB 2010 or VSB 2030 and VSB 2040) or FIN 1113

Dr. Raisa Velthuis

Office: Bartley 2085, (610) 519–4319

Zoom ID and Teams details are shared on Blackboard. 

Please reach out to me!


Class: MW 3:25 – 4:40 pm, Bartley 3069 (Section 1)
          MW 5:00 – 6:15 pm, Bartley 3069 (Section 2)
Zoom Office Hours: Thurs 12-2pm, or schedule an appointment

I’m very excited to work with you this semester and share my passion for finance. Equity Markets and Valuation is an interesting course! In this course, we will study the structure and functions of equity markets and dive into various approaches of stock valuation. We will explore theory and research with a focus on how this information can be applied in real-world investment decisions. You will become acquainted with a wide range of equity investment choices and develop skills used by financial analysts, investment bankers, and portfolio managers. In my class, you can expect to be challenged, engaged, and supported as you explore the field!

Learning outcomes: What you will know!

Upon successful completion of FIN2323, you will be able to:

  1. Formulate the key drivers of a stock valuation and present a stock pitch

  2. Assess the riskiness of individual stocks and portfolios of stocks

  3. Implement a portfolio optimization in Excel to recognize the benefits of diversification

  4. Employ financial models to estimate expected returns given the riskiness of a stock or portfolio

  5. Differentiate by comparing and contrasting a wide range of equity investment choices, including stocks, mutual funds, and options, and discuss financial news and events using appropriate financial terminology.

What book and other materials do I need?

Textbook: Essentials of Investments, 11th Edition, by Zvi Bodie, Alex Kane, and Alan J. Marcus, McGraw-Hill/Irwin Inc., 2018. ISBN 978-1260316114. Please make sure to get the McGraw Hill Connect Online Access to take online assessments, which also includes digital access to the textbook.

Access to news sources, e.g., Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Economist.
Refer to the Library site for info on how to access your free VSB subscriptions.

Microsoft Teams: Discussions will take place here. You will receive an invite.

Electronics: A financial calculator is not required for the course but you are allowed to use one for problems and exams. Laptops, smartphones, and other electronic devices with wireless connection are useful to access recorded lectures and participate in in-class quizzes. You will be asked to put away your devices if they become a source of distraction to you and your classmates.

Grading information:

You will be evaluated based on your work in the following categories:


Because you know yourself best, you may submit your choice of weighing to me by the third week of class. I will provide a survey link on Blackboard. If I don’t receive your preferences by the stated deadline, I will use the midpoint of each range to compute your course grade. I am hoping that this will incentivize you to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses and choose a strategic allocation that you expect to leverage your strengths best. For example, if you have test anxiety, you may want to slightly lower the weights of the tests. Or, you could choose to take lower stakes quizzes to facilitate learning, and then demonstrate your overall knowledge during a final exam that is worth more. The caveat is that you have to commit to your choice and cannot alter the weight of assessments that have already taken place.

Grades will be reported and updated in the gradebook on Blackboard. At the end of the semester, I will assign letter grades according to the following scale: A: 93 to 100, A-: 90 to 92.99, B+: 87 to 89.99, B: 83 to 86.99, B-: 80 to 82.99, C+: 77 to 79.99, C: 73 to 76.99, C-: 70 to 72.99, D+: 67 to 69.99, D: 63 to 66.99, D-: 60 to 62.99, and F: 59.99 and below.

Regrading policy: If you think that there are grading errors on your tests or your grade on an exam (or project) does not reflect the quality of your performance, submit the entire assessment together with a written explanation of your reasoning within a week of the return of the assessment. Any work submitted for re-grading will be subject to a complete re-grade, which means that your grade could go up, stay the same, or go down.


Learning finance isn't done by just reading about it. One of the most critical parts of this course is development of your analysis and communication skills regarding finance. Those skills are even more important than being able to "just do it". For each topic, you will be able to get practice and feedback in the following ways:

  • Preparation: As we introduce each topic, you should read the relevant sections in the textbook, watch a recorded lecture, and test your understanding using the book’s review questions. Homework that assesses your understanding of the material will be administered weekly through McGraw-Hill’s Connect platform. You may skip some.

  • In-class exercises: During most lectures, we will practice the concepts you learned in class. I will be there to help you with any problems that might come up. You are expected to participate by discussing materials and asking questions when something is unclear.

  • Current events: It is important to stay current with the developments in the financial news. You are encouraged to share interesting articles on Teams. Each group of students is asked to lead a discussion of current events or other insights relevant to class on the Teams platform. Groups will take turns taking on “conversational roles”, which will be further explained in class.

  • Class portfolio: Each week, you will be asked to vote for a stock to be added to a paper portfolio that we will follow throughout the semester. I will propose a handful of stocks based on recent events or discussions. You are asked to vote and to log your reasoning.


By relating class material to current events, you will deepen your understanding of the material significantly. It will also help you prepare for interviews, where you may be asked for your opinion on recent developments in the markets. These discussions make up a significant portion of your engagement grade and are fair game for quizzes and tests.

  • There will also be two group projects where you will be asked to apply concepts from class to real-world situations. You will be assigned a group early on in the semester.

  1. In the first project, you will be asked to find the optimal portfolio allocation across ten different asset classes, using Excel. Excel is a popular tool in finance and learning to efficiently use its features will benefit you in subsequent classes and internships.

  2. The second project is a bigger project where you are asked to gather and analyze financial data on a company of your choice in order to derive a valuation and investment recommendation of its stock. This project replicates a typical assignment found in Wall Street training programs and requires you to use popular financial software and apply various tools learned in class. Your grade will depend on the justification of your assumptions and the level of professionalism in all components of the project. You will likely benefit from working together and leveraging the diversity of opinions within your group to best scrutinize your arguments.​
    Components of the project will be due regularly and you will receive feedback on your work. You will also be asked to provide feedback to your classmates on their presentations, which is a valuable skill to develop for the long term.

I hope you actively participate in this course. I say this because I found it is the best way to engage you in learning.


Three non-cumulative quizzes and a cumulative final exam will be given. Each test is worth 100 points. The exams are closed-book and closed-notes tests, consisting of a combination of open-ended and multiple-choice questions. A formula sheet will be provided ahead of and during the exams. I recommend that you focus your studies on understanding the main concepts and ensuring that you can work out a variety of problems. I hope that by sharing a standardized formula sheet with everyone, you can focus your studies on what is most important, but also have something to fall back on if you get stuck during the assessment.

Tentative Schedule:              

This schedule may change depending on class needs. Topics are to be worked on throughout the week. Students will attend one session per week (cohort A or B). Lectures are pre-recorded and in-class content is the same on either day of the “week”.


















Important Policy Information

Students with disabilities: It is the policy of Villanova to make reasonable academic accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities.  Students must present verification and register with Learning Support Services (LSS) by contacting 610-519-5176 or at
The Office of Disability Services (ODS) is the primary office at Villanova University with specialized knowledge and experience in physical disability issues. If you are a student living with a disability and you need accommodations for that disability, please register with the ODS. The office is located in the Connelly Center 2nd floor. Upon registration and receipt of proper documentation, the office will facilitate the necessary accommodations.

Academic Integrity: When students come to Villanova, they join an academic community founded on the search for knowledge in an atmosphere of cooperation and trust. Students must be honest and forthright in their academic studies. To falsify the results of one’s research, to steal the words or ideas of another, to cheat on an assignment, or to allow or assist another to commit these acts corrupts the educational process. Students are expected to do their own work and neither give nor receive unauthorized assistance. Please familiarize yourself with the Code of Academic Integrity. Students are encouraged to visit the Academic Integrity Gateway, complete the interactive quiz, and use the web site as a resource.

University Diversity Statement: Villanova University, as a Catholic Augustinian institution of higher education, recognizes diversity as an integral component of the teaching and learning experience and as an essential element of the ongoing intellectual, social and spiritual development of every member of the Villanova community.
Accordingly, Villanova University will be a diverse community.  We commit ourselves to cultivating an academic environment marked by genuine curiosity about different perspectives, ardent receptivity to knowledge generated through intercultural connections and a genuine sensitivity to the variety of human experiences marked by domestic and global differences.


Other support: Successful people access support from others as needed. Villanova University has many supportive services that can help you as you strive to achieve your goals. I encourage you to reach out to me or other professionals on campus. Here’s some information about the resources available to you:

  • Your Professor
    Message me on Teams, e-mail me at, set up a zoom call, or stop by my office at Bartley 2085.

  • Librarians
    The Library staff assist students with critical and evaluative use of information. Furthermore, Course Reserve materials can be requested at the circulation desk on the first floor. Visit the library at Falvey Hall or call (610) 519-4270.

  • Learning Strategies
    Learning Support Services provides learning and study skills resources for all students who wish to enhance their academic experience in preparing to meet their educational goals.  These services include study skill workshops, study groups and homework help sessions for selected courses, academic coaching, accommodation support for students with disabilities, and study skills consultation. They are located in the Learning Commons in Falvey Suite 212 or call 610.519.5176.

  • Disability Counselors
    The Office of Disability Services (ODS) is the primary office at Villanova University with specialized knowledge and experience in physical disability issues.

  • Tutoring
    Several resources are available for students seeking support with a challenging course or to enhance achievement in areas in which the student already excels. Among others, the Writing Center and the Center for Speaking and Presentation are available to help you develop important skills that are part of your class assignments.

  • Counseling
    The University Counseling Center provides services that help students function optimally with regard to emotional, academic, social and psychological issues. The Center is well used by our student leaders and academically most talented students. For students who encounter a more difficult condition such as depression, anxiety, panic, or disordered eating, the staff is also experienced in diagnosis, crisis intervention, and treatment of these conditions. Visit at Room 206, Health Services Building or call (610) 519-4050.

  • Academic and Career Advisors
    The VSB advising team facilitates the exploration and development of academic and career goals, including advising on internships and study abroad opportunities, and empowers students to be responsible decision-makers and active participants in defining their futures. Visit at Bartley Hall 1054 or call (610) 519-5532.

  • Underrepresented students
    The Center for Access, Success and Achievement aims to recruit, retain, and graduate underrepresented, first generation, and Pell Eligible students through holistic support in a culturally diverse and academically excellent environment. Visit at Falvey Hall, Room 211 or call 610.519.4075.

  • International students
    The International Students Services Office provides assistance with Immigration rights and responsibilities, Educational, social and personal counseling, Cultural adjustment issues, and Campus and community activities. Visit at Connelly Center 2nd Floor or call 610.519.7827.

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