Robert Prion is 23, a 1985 Harvard graduate with a master's degree in business administration and founder of 1090 Financial Research Corp., with offices near Los Angeles International Airport. Does this sound like a quintessential yuppie--post-stock market crash variety?
At least that's one way of looking at Prion's latest accomplish-
ment--winning the overall 1987 United States Investing Championship, sponsored by the Financial Traders Assn. in Beverly Hills. Prion beat out 185 other investors from across the country and bested his nearest competitor by more than 100%. Only 36 of the investors managed to turn a profit.
The association reported that Prion also set an all-time record in the 5-year-old contest by increasing the value of his initial $5,400 investment by 232%, despite the stock market plunge last Oct. 19, when the most widely watched stock indicator lost more than 500 points. Prion's investments ranged from automobiles to computer software and included riskier over-the-counter stocks.
In a telephone interview, Prion, a native of Pittsburgh, modestly credited his high-flying performance partly to luck. Nor does he claim amazing foresight about the market crash. When the market fell, he had moved his money out of stocks, Prion said, because "it became very difficult to find companies that looked like a good value." But, he noted, he was back in the action on Oct. 20.
The young investor, who targets his investments to companies with a good cash flow, also gives credit to his location. By being 3,000 miles from Wall Street, Prion believes he isn't "constantly bombarded by the rumors and lies of the street" and that "in Los Angeles, I'm free to perform my own hard-headed analysis and use my judgment."
Finally, Prion said he didn't allow himself to be spooked by the "media hysteria" that followed the crash. This year he's turning a largely deaf ear to forecasts of an economic downturn.
"Anytime there's a consensus among the experts, you can generally assume it's not going to happen," he said.