Sunday, March 21, 2010

Stamp Investment Tip: Brazil 1949 Ouro Fino Bicentenary Souvenir Sheet (Scott #687a)

Like Jim Cramer and many other investment analysts, I favor the "BRIC" countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China), but as a stampselector, my take on them is somewhat different. Certainly an investor should endeavor to profit from the economic growth of these countries by investing in mutual funds or by prudently picking stocks, but should he be familiar with stamps, then why not diversify into them as well? After all, unlike a publicly traded company, a stamp (or in this case, a souvenir sheet) can't be nationalized, lose its value due to mismanagement, fraud, dilution, or competition, or go bankrupt. In fact, a stamp's supply must either remain static or diminish over time, so in effect, all are subject to "stock buybacks" by the Fates or Father Time.

In 1949, Brazil issued a souvenir sheet picturing the Church of Sao Francisco de Paula, and commemorating the Bicentenary of the city of Ouro Fino (Scott #687a). Only 10,000 were issued, and Scott '10 values this religion topical at $62.50 for unused and $30.00 for used. As an added "bonus feature," the s/s was issued without gum, making preservation less of a headache. The '49 Church souvenir sheet is, in my opinion, grossly undervalued, and a likely candidate for hoarding and price manipulation in the not-too-distant future.

With 191 million people, Brazil is the largest economy in Latin America, and the world's eighth largest. Political and economic reforms have given the country a brighter future than it had in the bad old days of oligarchical dictatorship. The Brazilian economy is diverse, the country is aggressively investing in its future by generously funding technological research and education, and exports are booming. Annual GDP growth has averaged a little over 5% over the last 5 years.

There are a number of undervalued Brazilian issues with printing quantities of 10,000 to 100,000, some of which have topical appeal, and recommending them for accumulation seems a no-brainer. Brazil looks destined to become an economic superpower, and even if it mirrors the philatelically anemic U.S. and only one out of a thousand Brazilians become serious stamp collectors and one out of a fifty become "unserious" ones, they'll be competing for their nation's better stamps, only to find that the cupboard is bare.

Note: I've never seen a First Day Cover of #687a, and it's possible that they are rare, because the sheet was issued without gum.


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