Had I only known in the mid-1970s, as a child, some of what I know now, and I'm am not referring to anything deep or meaningful. I would have scooped up dozens of boxes of unopened Topps baseball cards and stored them until now. What would have cost me nine bucks in 1975, a box of 1975 Topps minis, sold at auction Sunday (Robert Edward Auctions) for $9,000.
In hindsight, I was not smart to leave unopened the 1977 Topps box my grandfather gave me for my 11th birthday; seven of those sold for between $5,160 and $7,500 each. And the list goes on; single unopened packs that were considered common back in the day were selling for several hundred dollars and into the thousands, apiece.
I'm not sure whether this is the mother of all bubbles, as sports card markets have had peaks and valleys in the past, but I do not believe what I am seeing.
All the preceding makes the news that legendary card maker Topps is going public once again (this may be the third time, if I recall correctly), as I mentioned last Monday, all the more interesting. I don't know if Topps has maintained any big stashes of older unopened cards, but over the years it has sold off a great deal of stuff, including proof cards and player contracts. I do know, however, that the initial public offering (IPO) will come with much fanfare.
Topps will come back to market via special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Mudrick Capital (MUDS) and has a pro-forma equity valuation of $1.16 billion and enterprise value of $1.3 billion according to a company presentation. Michael Eisner, who took the company private back in 2007 for $385 million (much to my chagrin as a shareholder at the time), has stated that he will not be selling any of his stake, for what it's worth. I remember back during the tech bubble buying up forgotten Topps stock for $2 a share; at that time the market cap was below $100 million, as I recall.
There has been some extra excitement around this new deal due to Topps entry into blockchain, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and digital products. Indeed, Topps on Tuesday is launching its 2021 Topps Series 1 Baseball NFT collection. I find that all very ironic given the huge prices collectors are now paying for physical cards, including the unopened boxes and packs I mentioned at the beginning of the piece, but this is a new era and value is in the eye of the beholder.
I currently own one SPAC, Redball Acquisition Corp. (RBAC) , RBACU; so far it has been like watching paint dry as I wait for Billy Beane and his crew to put some capital to work. MUDS is one I am still contemplating.