I was surprised at the number of e-mails and questions that have come from both the article and board post on markets and market analysis. Many of the questions and comments have centered on my statements and thoughts that meaningful market analysis is more than just a price realized list.
Analysis is about understanding an environment, not just one aspect of it which a price represents. To give you an idea of what I am talking about, consider these questions or issues as they relate to what I have previously written about and what analysis is.
Surety of Data. Here the analyst has to come up with some way to evaluate similar items offered in different environments. If an auction house does not permit in house or shill bidding and the other does, then these are different environments. Both auction houses get the same price for the same item by type, age, grade etc, but should they be seen as being the same? I say no. In looking at activity on an auction lot, you are looking for bidder interest and final price. The other thing to consider is not all auction houses have the same buyers premium, so this too would have to be accounted for. As a way to compensate for these factors, an analyst might apply some formula in order to normalize the data.
Auction House A: No Shill Bidding Bat Price: Final Bid Price $3000.00
Auction House B: In House (IH) or Shill Bidding (SB): Final Bid $3000.00
You will notice that I did not use the price realized as this reflects final bid plus buyer’s premium which is not the same in all cases.
The analyst might then want to establish some sort of metric for the confidence factor they have in the auction house that allows for IH/SB practices.
Auction House A: $3000 x 1 = $3000.00 Adjusted Final Sale Price (AFSP)
Auction House B: $3000x .85(IH/SB confidence factor) = $2550.00 (AFSP)
Some might argue that this is meaningless since the price sold for is the price sold for. In reality it is not. Auction houses that engage in IH/SB can have lots that did not in fact sell at all at the posted level and this has to be accounted for when trying to get the true sense of the market environment. I did not make a separate adjustment for the number of bids as this is somewhat absorbed in the final bid price as a function of the activity necessary to achieve it.
Bidder interest is also important, but once again, as an analyst I would not be looking at as an isolated variable. To see this factor and others in some sort of relevant and meaningful context, I would likely develop a spread sheet with these data fields. For consistency and since I wrote about bats last week, they would include:
C: Era of Career: E=Early; M=Mid; L=Late
D: Grade and Grader: Low= 1-4; Mid 5-6; High
E: Number of Bids:
F: Auction House Offering the Item and Their IH/SB Confidence Rating
G: Date of the Auction:
L: Special Characteristics
For B: I have included entries for manufacturer as not all bats from the same period and grade are valued the same by collectors.
For E/G: I would want to track these both individually and in concert with each other. I would be looking for any impact that having very similar items run at the same time might have. You will also want to have identified this as you do trend analysis and projections over time.
For F: This is a stand alone and integrating data field. From a stand alone perspective, I would be looking at this in order to shape both my buying and consigning decisions. I would also want to see if they frequently run similar items in the same auction. This is good for buyers and bad for consigners.
For I-K: While these may be considered a subset of the grade, I would look to track these separately. Since I am taking the time to capture information about this bat, I would consider these opportunity entries and information that I can analyze and possible leverage over time.
For L: This can be something like a hologram, serial number, distinctive autograph or anything else that enable you to tack this item as single item that may be re-offered as opposed to a new or different item. This become important in trying to gauge overall availability as this does have an effect on price. It can also be useful in spotting items that did not really sell, but show up the very next auction by the same house. This can also help you in deciding on the IH/SB confidence factor rating.
As you can see, all of this represents a great deal more than just keeping track of what a bat sold for. That is only pricing data, and based on the current environment, is likely to be flawed in some cases. If this is all you’re interested in, then you are not looking for market analysis for bats and you can just stop reading. I mention this as no analysis has been conducted, only a gathering of raw data.
The analysis comes in looking at this data and trying to do a number of things by using it to answer what I assume are fundamental questions a collector might have.
Let’s say what you are looking to do is analysis on early career, high grade Hank Aaron Hillerich and Bradsby bats that you are either looking to buy or sell/consign to an auction house.
By gathering the data in the manner suggested, you will now be able to see these things:
– Adjusted Pricing Date for the bat.
– The number of these bats that have come to market with particular attention to if the market is saturated with the product indicating a better buying time and maybe a selling position.
– The ability to see this number over time and gauge the market saturation point for both buying and selling.
– The general availability of this bat by grade, manufacturer, and era with emphasis on how many times the same bat come up. Knowing this can help you decide when you might be faced with a now or never, or at least not for a long time purchase opportunity.
Mind you all of this has been devoted to looking at one player, by one manufacturer, by a specific era and desired grade. You could do the same thing for one player and now look at it in terms of:
“I just want a nice Aaron bat, what are my options likely to be and at what cost?”
Here you may decided that mid career, mid grade bats are a better value than a high grade late career bat or a low grade early career offering based on how well they hold price and don’t appear to have reached a saturation point in the market.
What about comparing the same player against himself relative to the manufacturer? MEARS has gone to great lengths to provide information not found anywhere else and many of these articles have been moved to Archive. Your knowledge of this information may present buying opportunities that others may not know about. These same articles can also help you spot overvalued items for various reasons and enable you to steer clear of them.
The point I am trying to make is that market analysis is NOT just a price listing, especially given the flawed environment in which many bats are currently offered. I also take the time to lay all of this out in this manner because if MEARS ever considered offering market analysis as a service, this is what I feel it would have to look like in order to be of value. The issue for us is one of opportunity cost. That being for everything we devote resources to, it is at the expense of something else. While I have done some initial cost projections on what it would take to do this, with an already fully absorbed workforce, I am not sure it makes sense to move out on this time.
Once again, thanks to all of you who contacted me on this topic and I hope either my direct responses or the information presented here has been helpful.
As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions or comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com