Feb. 8 Markets Report: Half a Honus Is a Whole Fortune
Farmland’s impressive run might be ending, millions of ETH is missing and the culprit is unidentified, and Honus Wagner cards are worth a fortune even in terrible condition.
Updated Feb 8, 2022
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Farmers had a fantastic 2021 but they’re not so optimistic about this year. The second largest DeFi hack yet recorded happened last week, and the hacker made off with hundreds of millions worth of wETH. And sports cards continue to have outrageous values, as a Honus Wagner card that’s seen much better days went for six figures at auction over the weekend. Check out the details and get updates on more of your favorite asset classes below.
Real Estate & Farmland
Real Estate & Farmland
After a run of months in which it seemed farmland values could only continue to skyrocket, January brought some bumps in the road. Purdue’s Ag Economy Barometer, which reports farmer sentiment, fell six points to it’s second-lowest point in 18 months. Additionally the Farm Financial Performance Index, which records farmer’s responses on whether they expect their financial performance to be better or worse than a year prior, fell 27% from December (and 30% compared to January 2021). Farmers are citing concerns about rising costs for machinery and other production necessities, as well as ongoing supply chain instabilities.
In the world of non-farm real estate, all is still well, at least as far as institutional investors are concerned. A recent report estimated that large firms have invested close to $50 billion in single family rentals in the last couple years, with no signs of slowing. Blackstone’s Real Estate Income Trust fund has raised a similar amount in the past five years, from investors chipping in as little as $2,500, and used that money to buy all kinds of commercial real estate. The fund actually captured close to 70% of all money invested in non-traded REITs over the course of 2021, and has helped Blackstone come close to hitting $1 trillion in assets under management, a milestone the asset manager expects to hit sometime this year.
Last week saw the second largest DeFi hack yet recorded, with Wormhole (a bridge between Solana and other blockchains) losing around $320 million in wETH. No word yet on exactly how the hacker was able to gain access to the stolen crypto, but Wormhole has offered $10 million to the as yet anonymous person or group as a “bug bounty,” in return for the details and return of the stolen funds.
You may have heard high profile politicians and crypto activists going back and forth in recent months about when, how, and even if we should regulate cryptocurrencies. There’s been a lot of chatter, but nothing concrete has been legislated yet, leaving many observers still pretty confused. But there’s one recent court case that could help lead to a better understanding for everyday investors of how they should think about their crypto holdings when it comes to tax season. A Tennessee couple was offered almost $4,000 from the Attorney General of the United States, as a refund plus interest, in response to a complaint they had filed about the taxation of Tezos tokens they owned in 2019. Rather than accepting the refund, the couple indicated that they would continue on to trial in an attempt to both recover the funds AND get guidance from the IRS about how to treat all sorts of cryptos.
On Saturday a signed card for Jasson Dominguez, also known as “The Martian,” sold at auction for $474,000. This is an auction high for any of the 18 year old’s cards, and notable to us here because he is still only in the minor leagues. Part of the New York Yankee organization, he was signed while still only 16 years old for a record $5.1 million. If a Dominguez card can fetch almost half a million at auction now, before he’s played a single game in the majors, just imagine what that card will be worth in five years!
Another notable auction sale also closed on Saturday, and taught us that when it comes to the most in demand cards out there, sometimes “mint condition” is negotiable. What amounts to about half of a Honus Wagner card sold for an astonishing $475,959. Just last year, an intact version of the card sold for an absolutely mind-blowing $6.6 million, going down in history as the most expensive sports card of all time. This torn card had been in a private collection for the past 27 years, and has been graded as authentic by experts.
Source: SCP Auctions
Wine & Whiskey
Wine & Whiskey
Multinational beverage company Diageo is reporting excellent results in multiple categories of alcohol over the past six months. Johnnie Walker is up 31% year over year, with Scotch as a whole up 27%. Even more impressive is Johnnie Walker Blue Label specifically, which is up 66%. The company’s CEO Ivan Menezes credits premiumization and increased focus on quality among consumers with the large increase in value of whiskey in general.
Good news for wine investors that want to take a more hands on approach to their portfolio of vintages. Vinovest has launched a trading platform that allows investors to buy and sell individual bottles of wine, just like stocks.
This joins Vinovest’s managed portfolio options as the latest way to diversify and protect your larger portfolio. With fine wines having an annualized return of 13.6% over the past decade and a half, there are definitely worse asset classes to consider.
The founders of Bored Ape Yacht Club have officially been identified by Buzzfeed as Greg Solano and Wylie Aronow. Neither man has yet to comment on having been identified, but have given interviews in the past under the pseudonyms “Gordon Goner” and “Gargamel.” With BAYC currently at a market cap of about $2.8 billion, the lowest priced Ape coming in at $280,000 (yes, that’s lowest), and the company that makes the Apes, Yuga Labs, in talks with Andreessen Horowitz, it doesn’t seem like the identity of the two men is actually all that important to the success of their NFT venture. What IS interesting and potentially important to the wider conversation around NFTs is the fact that such a project even got to such a high valuation without knowing who was actually behind it. As Buzzfeed asks, “How do you hold them accountable if you don’t know who they are?”
Speaking of accountability and NFTs, a DAO called AssangeDAO has raised $4 million through the sale of tokens in an attempt to help free Julian Assange from a UK prison where he awaits trial. The money raised will go toward hopefully purchasing an NFT created in collaboration with Assange, at which point the proceeds from the sale will go toward his legal fees. A spokesperson for AssangeDAO states that they are demonstrating the power of anonymity and dispersed organizing in a quest to aid someone that they believe has been wrongly imprisoned.
The latest celebrity to jump on board the NFT train is John Legend. His company Our Happy Company has now launched OurSong, a social NFT platform that Legend states will help creators and artists be discovered, engage with fans, and monetize their creations more easily and democratically. No word yet on how sales are going, but there was an estimated $40 billion dollar market for NFTs in 2021, so it seems almost impossible NOT to make money in the space right now.
Stocks & Bonds
Stocks & Bonds
The US added 467,000 jobs in January, far surpassing the expected number, and as a result bond yields popped up significantly—Thursday’s yield for 10 year treasury bonds was 1.825%, and after the jobs report on Friday, that number climbed all the way to 1.883%. Now, the key metric to watch is the inflation rate. This coming Thursday we’ll be getting the latest CPI (consumer price index), a number that is expected to come in at 7.2% year over year, which would be another new high in a string of high inflationary months. The one bright spot is that the rate of growth in the CPI would have slowed from the previous month (0.4% vs 0.5%), indicating that we might now be trending in the right direction.
The question on everyone’s minds is: are we merely in a correction or headed for a bear market? Investors are worried it’s the latter, with the VIX up over 50% this year. But not so fast, most analysts seem to believe the former. Expect high volatility to continue for the foreseeable future, but “about half of all corrections since 1966 have resolved themselves in less than five months," said James Solloway, chief market strategist at SEI's Investment Management Unit, in a report last month.” Additionally, recent troubles in the tech sector, while making for splashy headlines, don't necessarily spell doom for the market as a whole. Lots of non-FAANG earnings reports are due out this week with the potential for good news there, and energy stocks are booming. Chevron is up 15%, Exxon Mobil is up over 30%, and the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF is up close to 25% this year.
There are two huge potential IPOs to look forward to this year: Chime and Discord. Moves from each this past week indicate that an official date may be getting closer and closer. Chime has now partnered with Goldman Sachs to prepare for an offering that would value the company at close to $40 billion. The company just closed a $750 million funding round in August of last year, with a valuation of $25 billion, so this would be a significant leap for the digital banking platform.
Discord is making some adjustments to its board of directors, in a move that observers think indicates an increasingly imminent IPO. Netflix’s ex CMO Leslie Kilgore, and Block’s CFO Amrita Ahuja have both joined the board now; both have experience at companies traded in public markets and could help the platform navigate the transition from late stage startup to publicly traded company.
Nike is suing StockX over their use of NFTs that feature Nike trademarks. The sneaker giant is accusing the resale marketplace platform of inflating NFT prices and marketing to consumers who may believe that the NFTs are authorized. Nike has announced a plan to release its own set of “virtual products” sometime this month, and is concerned that StockX’s use of Nike branding in its NFT project will interfere with the success of those products.
Art & Collectibles
Art & Collectibles
An Albrecht Dürer drawing that was originally purchased for $30 at a yard sale in 2017 has now been valued at over $10 million after being authenticated. How’s that for a good return? The piece is currently in possession of Agnews Gallery, a London auction house, and has been examined by multiple experts over the course of more than three years in order to verify its provenance.
Look out, there’s a new king of the hill when it comes to alternative assets. Everyone knows by now that real estate is a good bet, or that crypto can net you some absolutely insane short term gains, but what about watches? A recent analysis of 10 years of sales data analyzed the performance of Rolex watches in the secondary market and compared it to the performance of stocks, bonds, real estate, and gold. The undisputed winner? The Rolexes. In 2011 the average price of a used Rolex was $5,000; that number has jumped to over $13,000 by the end of 2021. And the rate of price increase has only accelerated since the beginning of the pandemic. Experts say that while inflation has had some effect on the prices, the overwhelming contributing factor is an increase in global demand and a constrained supply.