Thursday, 13 December 2007

Buying Sotheby's - Auction market not dead yet

I just paid $37.62 for just over $11k of Sotheby's BID) shares.

1y Chart of Sotheby's Stock

Today they just sold a hand-written Harry Potter book for £1.95mm, that had an estimate of £50,000. I don't think the news has hit the stock yet. Just a month ago, the stock cratered about 30% following a failed auction of a Van Gogh, which always seemed a bit overdone to me given that it had a reserve of $25mm. This could bring back the focus on a highly lucrative industry where competition isn't particularly high. And whilst the auction houses do sometimes guarantee a certain amount for an auction item, it's not like they carry a huge inventory of dubious assets which could collapse in value, as per the banks.

Stock trading with a market cap of $2.5bn, and a P/E of 13.6. So not a crazy value by any means. The stock is down nearly 40% from it's 52 week high, and whilst I don't expect it to get all the way back up there, I think the fundamentals haven't changed dramatically yet. Whilst I am pretty bearish long-term on asset values, and could easily imagine art values etc dropping a long way from recently reached levels, it could take some time for the "rich" to feel the pain from a slowdown.

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