Welcome to Sports Cards Insider for February 17th, 2022 – FREE Version.
Each week we give you the scoop on undervalued, mispriced, and hidden gems in Alternative Investing.
As a reminder, here’s my view on sports cards sectors for 2022:
-All soccer, especially vintage
-Hockey, except for ultra blue-chip
Try the podcast
Horacio sat down with Andrew Goldberg, co-host of the Lukas Tigers and Brons OH MY! Podcast. Andrew and his co-host, Cage, have created one of the top sports card podcasts in the United States. From interviews with industry leaders to hobby influencers, the podcast has become synonymous with content and community.
Sports Cards in 2022
While factional markets are still down for 2022, sports cards are up for the third week in a row. I’d been wondering for a month or so if sports cards on fractional market had hit their bottom, and it looks like maybe they have? Tune in next week to gloat when I’m wrong.
Last Week in Sports Cards
Fractional secondary markets
All three tier one sports plus boxing and soccer were up last week with significant gains across the last two. All in, only 16 assets were negative on the week.
Only baseball and basketball were up last week with OnlyAlt, while everything else was down.
Incredible how different indices can return wildly different results.
CardLadder, which features monthly returns, shows soccer and football each up around 13%. The only sport that’s down? Basketball, which is one of only two sports in the green over at OnlyAlt.
This Week in Sports Cards
Assets dropping on marketplaces
Two drops to report from Dibbs. Collectable was dropping a logoman, but it looks like it was replaced by a piece of memorabilia.
1986 Fleer Stickers #8 Michael Jordan PSA 9
- Market Cap: $6,000
- Inferred Value: $6,000
- Date: 2/17/22 on Dibbs
- Our View: [INSIDERS ONLY]
1996 Topps Chrome #138 Kobe Bryant PSA 10
- Market Cap: $8,500
- Inferred Value: $7.610
- Date: 2/17/22 on Collectable
- Our View: [INSIDERS ONLY]
There are a few drops on Dibbs that are currently open and do look like decent buys depending on your investment philosophy.
As Dibbs notes, two of the three above are trading below CardLadder’s fair market value, so there could be an opportunity there.
I’m personally a bit meh about modern hockey (see below), and I try to avoid investing in athletes who are known for off-the-field issues like Rodgers.
That said, if you disagree, any of those could be a good pick up.
Last week we mentioned Memory Lane’s Winter Rarities auction. Not much change with two days to go, but it’ll be a good test for my vintage basketball hypothesis.
PWCC’s monthly premier auction ends in two days as well, and three of the current top four lots intrigue.
First, another 2000 Playoff Contenders Championship Ticket Tom Brady card is on the block. This one, a BGS 8.5, is currently at $1.7m. It needs to beat $2.1m or so to hit current fair market value. I sense a bit of potential Brady fatigue may be setting in on this card, but it’s probably going to prove me wrong.
Leland’s has a PSA 8 version of the Brady Rookie currently at $775k.
Goldin’s got a PSA 5 version currently at $600k if you’re shopping in the relative bargain bin.
Not a sports card but highly correlated, keep an eye on the 1999 Pokemon Base Set Shadowless 1st Edition Holo Charizard #4 PSA 10. Currently at $200k, this card has been fluttering between $250k and $300k for the better part of eight months. I think it’s going to break out, but I don’t know when.
Last: of course, we’ve got a 1986 Fleer Basketball Michael Jordan PSA 10. Every auction these days is required to have one and only one of these cards. I’m not great at eyeballing what grade a card should be, but this looks like a decent PSA 10.
It’s been stuck in this channel for six months now. When will it break out either up or down?
Next Week in Sports Cards
Closing in nine days, Heritage is currently running its Winter Platinum Night Sports Auction (that’s a mouthful).
This one is 🤤.
With over a week left, the 1946 American Baseball Bureau Questionnaire filled out and signed by legend Jackie Robinson has already smashed through its $1m estimate.
There’s also a PSA 8 graded copy of the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie; look for that to top $1.5m pretty comfortably.
Overall there are tonne of blue chip cards going, and it’s worth watching if you have investments in identical copies on fractional platforms.
I won’t go through them all but one I’m watching in particular: A 2003 – 04 Upper Deck Exquisite box has been trading around $100k on Collectable–well below our inferred value of around $300–for some time. There’s one now up in this auction. Let’s see where it ends up…
Given my investment theses above, this is what I’m focussing on as we get ready to launch our fund in March.
I’m bullish on vintage basketball, so I’ll be paying attention to this 1961 Fleer Jerry West Rookie PSA 9. It last traded for $87k in August 2021, and CardLadder only values it at $79k. That’s up 4x since 2018 but still feels low to me.
On the other hand, I’m generally pretty bearish on hockey for a couple of reasons:
- The sport has already permeated the two biggest sports card markets in the world (US and Canada) as much as it’s going to.
- The other countries where hockey is popular are not generally populated by people with enough disposable income to spend $100k on hockey cards.
The poster child for this thesis is the1985 O-Pee-Chee Mario Lemieux. His card *should* have a lot going for it:
- Lemieux is a legend in the sport. He’s a tier down from Gretzky, but many would put him on par with Bobby Orr and Gordie Howe.
- His PSA 10 rookie hard has a reasonably small population of only 77 (around 25% what Jordan’s rookie has).
But the market has never reflected this, and his rookie card just keeps bouncing around between $15k and $20k.
The closest NFL analogues I can think of is perhaps the 1981 Topps Joe Montana rookie, which has a population of 108 or the 1986 Topps Jerry Rice rookie with a pop of 59.
Similar eras. Similar status in their games. Similar populations.
But Montana’s rookie is worth around $65k and Rice’s is at $83k.
Despite growing up a 49ers fan in the 1980s, I would actually put Lemieux a hair above both these guys in terms of status in their field. And yet the Montana and Rice rookies are trading for 3x to 4x the hockey great.
All of which is a very long way of saying I’m surprised the Lemieux rookie at auction now has already blown through its previous record to set an all time high at $43k with NINE DAYS left.
Is the industry catching up? Will blue chip hockey close the gap? Is my “hockey is a money pit” thesis wrong?
One swallow doesn’t make a summer, but it’s worth keeping an eye on both this card and other top hockey assets. One other one in this auction:
- Unopened 1979 O-Pee-Chee box: currently at $97,500. Look for it to break $150k
Prove me wrong, hockey!