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Back to Investments I: Fundamentals of Performance Evaluation

Learner Reviews & Feedback for Investments I: Fundamentals of Performance Evaluation by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

886 ratings

About the Course

In this course, we will discuss fundamental principles of trading off risk and return, portfolio optimization, and security pricing. We will study and use risk-return models such as the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) and multi-factor models to evaluate the performance of various securities and portfolios. Specifically, we will learn how to interpret and estimate regressions that provide us with both a benchmark to use for a security given its risk (determined by its beta), as well as a risk-adjusted measure of the security’s performance (measured by its alpha). Building upon this framework, market efficiency and its implications for patterns in stock returns and the asset-management industry will be discussed. Finally, the course will conclude by connecting investment finance with corporate finance by examining firm valuation techniques such as the use of market multiples and discounted cash flow analysis. The course emphasizes real-world examples and applications in Excel throughout. This course is the first of two on Investments that I am offering online (“Investments II: Lessons and Applications for Investors” is the second course). The over-arching goals of this course are to build an understanding of the fundamentals of investment finance and provide an ability to implement key asset-pricing models and firm-valuation techniques in real-world situations. Specifically, upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to: • Explain the tradeoffs between risk and return • Form a portfolio of securities and calculate the expected return and standard deviation of that portfolio • Understand the real-world implications of the Separation Theorem of investments • Use the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) and 3-Factor Model to evaluate the performance of an asset (like stocks) through regression analysis • Estimate and interpret the ALPHA (α) and BETA (β) of a security, two statistics commonly reported on financial websites • Describe what is meant by market efficiency and what it implies for patterns in stock returns and for the asset-management industry • Understand market multiples and income approaches to valuing a firm and its stock, as well as the sensitivity of each approach to assumptions made • Conduct specific examples of a market multiples valuation and a discounted cash flow valuation This course was previously entitled “Financial Evaluation and Strategy: Investments” and was part of a previous specialization entitled "Improving Business and Finances Operations", which is now closed to new learner enrollment. “Financial Evaluation and Strategy: Investments” received an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 based on 199 reviews over the period August 2015 through August 2016. You can view a detailed summary of the ratings and reviews for this course in the Course Overview section. This course is part of the iMBA offered by the University of Illinois, a flexible, fully-accredited online MBA at an incredibly competitive price. For more information, please see the Resource page in this course and

Top reviews


Nov 11, 2016

This was a fantastic course, with a realistically attainable amount of material, and a humble, knowledgable professor whose teaching style makes a normally difficult topic very easy to understand.


Dec 6, 2017

Professor Weisbenner is fabulous! He is able to make anyone understand complex investment topics through his delivery and curriculum design. You are missing out not taking Investments from him!

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1 - 25 of 204 Reviews for Investments I: Fundamentals of Performance Evaluation

By Jen B

Nov 15, 2018

The module videos are unnecessarily long. Though there is a lot to cover, I found the course less structured and on point compared to many other courses I’ve taken. Rather than breaking down a complex topic, I felt more confused during this course. I took key concepts and researched on my own to understand the material. After 5 hours of videos in one module, researching further to try to understand what I should be learning in these videos is frustrating. I recommend the professor consider rerecording this course, edit video lectures to 1/2-time (eliminate irrelevant information) tailor the manner of teaching to a beginner level, stay focused on relevant content and avoid digressing. Also, the obvious plugs for the MBA program are unnecessary - professor always mentions what the enrolled students will be doing in addition... that is not necessary for viewers who are not taking this as part of the program. On a positive note, the professor knows this material and is also very passionate about the topic and does his best to inject humor.

By Ben N

Mar 28, 2018

I've taken several investments classes on Coursera and this is the best presentation of CAPM I've seen. Really systematic and entertaining presentation. I will recommend it to friends.

By Sachin P X

Nov 10, 2018

One of the best courses across platforms- classroom or online that I have taken. Huge real life value addition. Professor Scott has worked incredibly hard in putting this valuable content.

By Li Z

Apr 29, 2018

This is by far the best-made course I've ever studied on Coursera.

I enjoy every bit of the lectures and learn a lot besides the basics listed in the curriculum.

It's really the insights that's really valuable and worth learning.

I've spend four weekends on this course and I'm perfectly glad with it.

If you're looking to understand finance, learn this one.

By Dan H

Nov 12, 2016

This was a fantastic course, with a realistically attainable amount of material, and a humble, knowledgable professor whose teaching style makes a normally difficult topic very easy to understand.

By Karen F L

Dec 7, 2017

Professor Weisbenner is fabulous! He is able to make anyone understand complex investment topics through his delivery and curriculum design. You are missing out not taking Investments from him!

By Artem A

Nov 7, 2019

Awesome course on Investment. I enjoyed lectures, quizzes and peer assignments. There is a lot to learn and benefits can be significant. Thank you professor Scott.

By Junjie G

Jun 1, 2020

The professor did gave a good overview of CAPM and DCF and helped me to learn in this area. Before taking the course, I was expecting that it'd been enough to complete the course just by watching the video only. It turned out that I have to spend more time to do additional study in order to understand the content in the video. Maybe I am in an engineering major and this course is not for the beginner; but it would be better to give some key concepts a good explanation (such as why DCF can value a firm).

Also, it seems no staff to answer the questions in May 2020.

By Luis F R M

Jun 23, 2020

It is a really complete course with a lot of good content and information on investments, it actually feels like two courses in one. I personally liked the profesor for this course, his enthusiasm for the topic and the goal to make the course good, fun and understandable are obvious and transmit greatly to us as students. I have to say that I found some stages of the course a little hard to understand but looking at the way the professor was so exited about this topics only makes me want to study more and get to understand everything more in depth. As someone with more of a background in the construction business all this topics are a little new but at the same time i am able to se their use in my industry. Really just a great course. Thank you.

By Alexandre S

May 11, 2021

Without a doubt this is the best finance course I have ever studied. Prof. Scott Weisbenner holds all the information and transmits it in a very didactic way. However the only inconvenience is that he speaks very fast and, for those who do not have English as their native language, it is very difficult to follow him. As a result, it is an almost mandatory course for those who intend to undertake and work in finance! I guarantee: IT'S VERY WORTH IT!

By Jola D

Jul 26, 2017

The course is well structured and easy to follow - especially from someone who is working full time as well. The modules are straight to the point and with good examples. I was quite happy with the course.

One way to improve would be to have more shorter videos and divide examples into different videos.

By M L

Aug 31, 2019

Great class!

Very interesting content and Mr Weisbenner is an exceptional Teacher.

The course builds a bridge between the theoretical foundation and the practical appliance and on top of that Mr Weisbenner makes it a lot fun! Would take any class with him in the future!

By Ana P M

May 17, 2018

it was a very nice course. Really easy to understand and get in track with the professor. Modules can be done in a very short time if you work more hours but can also be done in a long period with no rush at all, so you can play with your time!

By Rodrigo F

Apr 8, 2017

I've tried taking lots of investing classes. This is the first one that brought it all together. It's basic enough for beginners but I believe challenging for people who are more advanced. Excellent balance of theory and application.

By Jafed E G

Jul 6, 2019

I enjoy the lectures. The professor has a good speaking and teaching style which keeps me interested. Lots of concrete math examples which make it easier to understand. Very good slides which are well formulated and easy to understand

By Alexander H

Jul 4, 2019

I really enjoyed this course. A lot of good information explained very well. The enthusiasm and demeanor of the professor made the course all the more enjoyable. Looking forward to more great content by the University of Illinois.

By Mohamed M

Dec 11, 2016

Excellent course content from an amazing professor who took the time and effort to record more than 30 hours of video to make the students make the most out of this course. He has really interesting and exciting teaching style.

By Raj B

Dec 7, 2017

This course changed my thinking of investment analysis many different ways . Key take away is faculty interviews with strong research oriented talks gave me an eye opening for building new investment strategies.

By Jacques P

May 7, 2017

Really good for anyone who wants to improve their knowledge and understanding of investments. Also, take the Honors track to help understand the material even more. Prof Weisbenner is great and knows his stuff

By Deepen ( J

Nov 20, 2018

I learned a lot from this course. This course has fundamentally changed the way I understand investments. I hope to apply my knowledge in real world situation.

By H

Dec 19, 2018

Profound, a lot of information, nice presentation, helpful Professor, lighthearted style.

I can only recommend it.

It takes time, but it definitely

worth it!

By Vivek V

Mar 5, 2018

All the examples were helpful in providing a lot of real world perspectives and was beneficial to someone who had already done a similar course.

By Michael S Y

Aug 12, 2018

An excellent course! loved the material, great assignments, built my fundamentals in investments in a great way. Professor Scott is great man.

By Janelle E

Apr 19, 2020

Enjoyed this course very much. Even though my background is Engineering, no finance at all, I was able to follow.

By Teresa B

Nov 17, 2020

Prof. Weisbenner is really the best - he is sooo good! It may seem like a TON of material to get through at first - and it is! - but hang in there and keep going! If you're not coming from a math or finance background (similar to how I'm not), it may take a minute for the pieces to click together. They will! There is a method to the madness, too. All the "broccoli" you're going to be working through in the first part of the course is SO worth it because you will feel so gratified as you begin to realize that suddenly you understand Capital Assets Pricing Models, and understand how to evaluate the performance of stocks and funds. Dedicate some time for the course and dig in - you'll love it!