Sunday, December 20, 2009

Stamp Investment Tip: South Africa 1936 JIPEX Souvenir Sheets (Scott #72-73)

In 1936 South Africa issued a pair of souvenir sheets for the Johannesburg International Philatelic Exhibition (Scott #72-73). Only 5,000 sets were issued, and Scott '10 prices the set at $ 11.75 ($ 25.00 for NH).

I feel that the set is undervalued, given its appeal to collectors of British Commonwealth and South Africa.

South Africa is a country of vast potential but many problems. As a a middle-income country of about 49 million, it has an abundant supply of resources, well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors, a stock exchange that ranks among the top twenty in the world, and a modern infrastructure supporting an efficient distribution of goods to major urban centres throughout the entire region. South Africa is ranked 25th in the world in terms of GDP. Annual GDP growth has averaged about 4% over the past 5 years.

However, the country has a two-tiered economy- one rivaling other developed countries and the other with only the most basic infrastructure, similar to a Third World nation. Unemployment is extremely high and income inequality is approximately equal to Brazil. Also, there is an 18% HIV infection rate among South African adults, among the highest in the world.

Nevertheless, I believe that the sheets represent a low-risk speculation, and given their current inexpensiveness and low printing quantity, the downside is virtually non-existent.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Stamp Investment Tips: Mulling Over Moldova

There's an old saying in real estate investing which I believe applies to the many of the stamps of Moldova: "Buy the worst house in the best neighborhood."

Flipping through the Moldova section of a Michel Osteuropa 2009/2010 Catalog (Band 7), I've noted that the country was established in 1991, and that the sets and souvenir sheets it has produced since then have been issued in low to moderate quantities- mostly 100,000 or fewer, with many under 30,000. Furthermore, many of Moldova's issues are attractive topicals, with international appeal.

On the other hand, Moldova is the poorest country in Europe, and about a quarter of its population of 3 1/2 million live on less than $2 per day. The country has no mineral deposits but enjoys a favorable climate and good farmland, and depends heavily on agriculture (mainly fruits, vegetables, wine, and tobacco). Currently, Moldova imports all of its supplies of oil, coal, and natural gas, mostly from Russia, and consequently is extremely vulnerable to increases in energy prices. Annual GDP growth has been strong recently, averaging about 5.5% over the last five years.

My view is that the Moldovan economy will probably gradually improve, and that even if it doesn't, it doesn't have much further to fall. Development of domestic alternative forms of energy could improve its situation considerably. While I do not believe that a significant stamp collecting base will develop within the country in the near future, its scarcest popular topical sets and souvenir sheets should be considered for speculation. I've listed a few of them, along with quantities issued, and Scott '10 Catalog Values, below:

1995 Mushrooms (Scott #153-57; 22,500; Scott '10 CV = $ 16.65)

1995 Relics (Scott #161-63; 25,500; Scott '10 CV = $ 9.40)

1995 Films (Scott #187-89; 20,000; Scott '10 CV = $ 9.15 )

1996 Mushrooms (Scott #190-94; 20,000; Scott '10 CV = $ 9.00)

1996 Summer Olympics s/s (Scott #199a; 10,000; Scott '10 CV = $ 3.50)

1996 Monasteries (Scott #200-04; 17,000; Scott '10 CV = $ 10.40)

1997 Composers (Scott #232-35; 19,500; Scott '10 CV = $ 7.00)

1997 UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Scott #250-55; 18,500; Scott '10 CV = $ 6.35)



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