The holy grail of baseball card collecting is the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card. If you were born before 1985, there’s a good chance you already knew this. Millennials are not baseball card collectors. It’s not a growing trend being picked up by the youth. Card makers have gone to extravagant lengths to keep the hobby alive, including fastening actual fragments of athletes jersey to cards, special sets of shiny refractor cards, rare one of a kind cards and special autographed cards. It’s not a booming industry, per se, but its still alive and well.
Ebay is the official home to the card collecting community. In the old days (pre-internet) you would have to wait for a Beckett’s monthly magazine price guide to get an idea about the market for your card. Now you look on Ebay to see what it’s actually selling for. You can also gauge demand by how many watchers are keeping an eye on the card. You can track past sales. The tools available give collectors a serious assessment on how much they stand to make when selling an item. That kind of transparency in the card collecting market has never been seen before. For someone who remembers the old days when baseball card shops were rip off magnets for gullible sellers, it’s a thing of beauty.
It gets even better. In the old days, an old man would pop out of the back office with a microscope and grade your card’s condition on the spot. His word was infallible. VF (Very Fine) was the highest all the way down to P (Poor), the very lowest. Once your card was graded, the process was over. This left lots of room for all sorts of scams, from trimming the edges, to outright fakes. The naked eye knew no better. It was the wild wild west out there.
Enter Collectors Universe. The business owns Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA), the gold standard in grading and authenticating sports collectibles. Worried that your Pete Rose autographed baseball you bought from Uncle Jimbo when you were 12 might be a fake? Send it to PSA and for a small fee and you can either thank or confront him based on the results. Got a 1986 Michael Jordan rookie Topps basketball card? PSA will encase your prized possession in a tamper proof slab of hard plastic, assign a unique bar code to your card, and grade it on a 1-10 scale based on a sophisticated computer program. Taking out the scammers, fraudsters and the old man in the back with the microscope makes card collecting fun again.
The business is not solely relying on sports cards either. Baseball, Football, Basketball and Hockey are the big 4, but coins and stamps get plenty of PSA action too. On Ebay, PSA graded collectibles are worth more money than similar condition cards graded by their competitors. PSA, simply put, dominates the authenticating, grading and encasing market.
The chart looks decent with prices hovering around the lower end of historical stock prices. The 200 day MA is almost 40% higher from today’s price. The P/E is a bit high at 24.00, but the dividend is juicy at 5%. The business is solid. The chart looks good. The dividend rocks. If you can’t afford that 1952 Mickey Mantle you always wanted, perhaps you can invest in a stock that profits off everyone else who does.