LEGO Sets Might Be a Better Investment Than Stocks, Bonds, or Gold

iStock.com/georgeclerk
iStock.com/georgeclerk

The unfortunate part of turning a profit on collectible playthings is that you can’t enjoy them. Slabbed comic books go unread; vintage Star Wars action figures are condemned to their blister-packed prisons. But for people who can somehow resist the urge to rip open that LEGO set, fortune may await. Bloomberg recently reported that the brick building kits seem to serve as a reliable asset that can pay off over time.

Bloomberg cited a 2018 study [PDF] that demonstrated a stronger return for LEGO releases than with stocks, bonds, or gold. The reason is the supply and demand typical of the collector’s market. A new LEGO set will sell for a nominal retail price; as demand exceeds inventory and the sets are discontinued, the price on the aftermarket rises. For example: A 2007 Millennium Falcon kit carried a sale price of $499.99. In 2016, it was selling for nearly $4000.

That would be considered a big score. But the study, conducted by Victoria Dobrynskaya of Russia's National Research University Higher School of Economics and independent researcher Julia Kishilova, looked at 2322 kits dating back to 1987 and found that profit existed across a spectrum of LEGO-branded products. Sets carrying Harry Potter or Star Wars themes yielded an average 11 percent annual return. Some, like a 2014 Darth Revan, went from $3.99 to $28.46 in just one year, earning a return in excess of 600 percent.

Small and large sets tended to have the greatest increase in value, the smaller due to their comparative rarity and the larger ones due to their acquisition price. Licensed sets tend to achieve the greatest returns, though Dobrynskaya found that The Simpsons sets have traditionally failed to turn a profit.

Should you begin to regard LEGO as a potential avenue for retirement income? While the property experienced a resurgence of interest when it grabbed the Star Wars license in 1999 and has remained strong ever since, there’s no guarantee demand will continue unabated. Then again, the fact that the sets have a vibrant community devoted to building means they’re also unlikely to suffer the same fate as short-lived fads like the Beanie Babies.

The bigger problem? Unlike stocks, LEGO sets are tangible, with some coming in massive boxes that need to be carefully stored so they’re not exposed to damage. They’re also subject to the same speculative dangers as conventional investing. If you bought that Millennium Falcon, it's worth bragging about. If you decided to stock up on sets related to Atlantis or the 2010 movie Prince of Persia—which bombed—the price could sink. Like a bad real estate deal, you could be stuck with little more than a pile of bricks.

[h/t Bloomberg]

The Government Will Pay You $1000 to Adopt a Wild Horse

iStock.com/Callipso
iStock.com/Callipso

In an effort to reduce the population of wild horses out West, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has scrapped the $125 fee for adopting a wild mustang and offered an incentive in its place. Anyone who brings home one of these horses will receive $1000 from the government, according to The New York Times.

You won’t have to travel to Wyoming to check out the selection, either. An “online corral” called Wild Horses Online lets you browse the different horses (and burros) available for adoption. You can peruse photos and short bios of the animals, narrowing your search by gender, age, color, height, training, and more. Some of the horses are completely untrained, while others have been “gentled,” meaning that they’ve had some degree of handling.

According to the bureau’s most recent data from March 2018, there are more than 66,000 wild horses in 10 states. Nevada is home to more than 40,000 of these animals, making it the state with the largest wild horse population. Montana has just 155 horses, a handful of which live on the state’s Wild Horse Island in Flathead Lake.

In many areas, rising populations and drought have threatened the animals’ access to food and water. The government has responded by rounding up the animals and bringing them to corrals or pastures that aren’t located on public land. About 50,000 horses were available for adoption as of last month.

In addition to the adoption program, the bureau has also been working with a nonprofit organization that hosts a national competition called Extreme Mustang Makeover, in which horse trainers have about 100 days to tame a wild horse. Some wild horses are also taken in and “gentled” by inmates at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center as part of a rehabilitation program. Similar programs exist in at least five other states as well.

[h/t The New York Times]

Here's What Investments in the Early Stock Offerings of Major Companies Would Be Worth Today

iStock.com/pressureUA
iStock.com/pressureUA

If you’re curious about what might have been when it comes to hypothetical stock market investing, a new infographic from the financial website How Much will get your attention. The site looked at the initial public offering, or IPO, of some of the biggest companies in tech and consumer goods over the past decades and how much that investment is worth today. (IPOs signal when stock is released for purchase by the general public.) Here's what they found.

A chart demonstrates the increase in value of stocks for successful companies
How Much

Putting down $100 for shares of McDonald’s when the company went public in 1965 and forgetting about it would have netted you $569,800 today. Even more profitable than fast-service burgers would have been Coca-Cola, although that stock would have had a century to appreciate.

The biggest score—and surprise—is Nike, which manages to deliver the biggest haul since its IPO launched in 1980. Nike stocks traded at just 18 cents a share then but ballooned to over $85 in February 2019. Microsoft was far more valued at the time of its IPO, trading at $21 a share in 1986, but its value has only gone up—a share is now worth $108.22 in 2019.

The site accounted for stocks that were held through falling and rising stock prices, stock splits, and stocks with dividends taken out and not reinvested.

While it may seem like a bit of financial daydreaming, the chart is an intriguing illustration of the brands that have resonated with the public over the years. When Starbucks went public in 1992, some prospective investors believed that selling coffee for the then-outrageous price of $1 per cup with Italian names that many people couldn’t pronounce was ridiculous. For others, believing in the power of the latte paid off.

[h/t Digg]

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