Not Offered This Term

California Polytechnic State University

GSB-585: Seminar in Investments

Prof. Cyrus Ramezani

Lecture Time

MW 2:10-4:00 PM (03-302)

Office Hours:

MW 12:30-2:00 PM and by appointment







Communicating with the Professor: The easiest means of reaching me and getting a reply to your questions is email. The next best way to reach me is to come to office hours. Please make use of my office hours.

First Assignment (due today): Send me an email. (subject line: GSB-585) providing the following information: name, major, class level, general interests, and anything else that may be of interest. I will create an email alias for the class and send articles and other important information via email. You will be responsible for materials sent to you by email (So please don't neglect email).


The course is concerned with the application of financial theory to the problems of investment management. The approach taken is ``bottom-up'' (instead of ``top-down'') in the sense that we will first study the valuation (selection) of financial instruments and then cover portfolio optimization and risk management. This course will be very analytical requiring extensive use of Excel. Our primary focus will be on the equity market and fixed income securities (no time for futures, options and other derivatives in this course. GSB-X560 will cover these topics. Interested students should follow up with GSB-X560). Topics will include stock and bond valuation and investment strategies, portfolio optimization and asset allocation, the CAPM , and their implications for investment management. Students will be required to learn and use optimization software and write programs in Excel (others).

Prerequisites: A statistics course (at the level of Statistics 252) and an introductory finance course (at the level of Bus. 342). Spreadsheet proficiency is a must. Please see me after class if you don't meet the requirements.



Homework: There will be 2 homework sets (40% of grade). The due dates will be announced when the homework is handed out or placed on the course home-page ( To make life easy on the grader, homework presentation should conform to a set of rules. The homework are substantial. Don't wait till the day before they are due! The homework would require less effort provided that you attend class, keep up with the readings and try your hands at the problems (using your calculator or computer software). You are encouraged to discuss problems with classmates but there will be a high penalty to all parties involved for copying homework (you would be surprised how easy it is to catch folks who duplicate. Surely, they reveal themselves on the exams!).

Late Homework Will Not Be Accepted!

Exams: Two midterm and a final exam will be given. The first midterm will be at the end of the first week of class covering time value of money handout and materials in chapters 1 through 4 (10% of grade). The second midterm will be around the middle of the term covering the materials on fixed income securities (20% of grade). Final (20% of grade) will cover all course materials (you should have no problem on exams if you go for perfection on the homework and read). The format of exams will be problems, definitions, and multiple choice questions.

All grading will be on the curve (i.e., your performance will be measured relative to others in the class).

No make-up exams will be given without prior consent of instructor and documentation to show why exam cannot be taken at the scheduled time. Exams are closed book.

Class Participation and Attendance: 10% of your grade will be determined by attendance and class participation. I will take roll and expect to know your names and have informal discussions with all of you during the term (I am told I have a good sense of humor. Remains to be seen!). Don't hesitate to point out anything that is annoying you about the class.

Overall Course Grade will be determined as follows:

Total-Score= .1 x Attendance + .1 x Midterm1 + .2 x Midterm2 + .4 x Homework + .2 x Final

Since attendance, midterm, homework, and final will have a 100 points each, the total score will be between 0-100 points. For example, suppose a student receives 90 for attendance, 70 for each midterm, 80 for homework, and 90 for final. Then his/her total score will be:

Total-Score = .1 x 90 + .3 x 70 + .4 x 80 + .2 x 90 = 80

A distribution will be constructed from everyone's total score. The course grade will begin at F (total score below 50) and go up.

It is recommended that reading assignments (particularly from the text book) be done prior to lectures. Calendar of topics and assignments will be posted on the course home-page ( and will be mailed to you weekly.

Classroom Civility: I expect students to avoid arriving late or leaving class early; cell phones going off in class; bicycles in the classroom; packing up disruptively before the class is dismissed; eating in class; sleeping in class; reading newspapers or surfing the internet while I lecture; chatting with neighbors, or other forms of disruptive behavior.

Tentative Schedule of Lectures:

1. Introduction to the course (Chapters 1 through 4)

2. Time value of Money and other issues (Chapters 1 through 4)

3. Fixed Income Securities (Chapter 14)

4. Term Structure (Chapter 15)

5. Duration Analysis (Chapter 16)

6. Intro to Portfolio Theory (Chapter 5)

7. Portfolio Theory: Risk and Return (Chapter 6)

8. Capital Allocation and Efficient Diversification (Chapter 7)

9. Asset Allocation (Chapter 8)

10. Asset Pricing Models (Chapter 9)

11. Market Efficiency (Chapter 12)

12. Last lecture: Summary and overview.