A panel of stock-picking professionals has been undone in an investment challenge by a ginger feline called Orlando. The Observer newspaper's 2012 portfolio challenge pitted professionals Justin Urquhart Stewart of wealth managers Seven Investment Management, Paul Kavanagh of stockbrokers Killick & Co, and Schroders fund manager Andy Brough against students from John Warner School in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire – and Orlando.
Each team invested a notional £5,000 in five companies from the FTSE All-Share index at the start of the year. After every three months, they could exchange any stocks, replacing them with others from the index.
By the end of September the professionals had generated £497 of profit compared with £292 managed by Orlando. But an unexpected turnaround in the final quarter has resulted in the cat's portfolio increasing by an average of 4.2% to end the year at £5,542.60, compared with the professionals' £5,176.60.
While the professionals used their decades of investment knowledge and traditional stock-picking methods, Orlando selected stocks by throwing his favourite toy mouse on a grid of numbers allocated to different companies. The challenge raised the question of whether the professionals, with their decades of knowledge, could outperform novice students of finance – or whether a random selection of stocks chosen by Orlando could perform just as well as experienced investors.