How to Spot Undervalued 2nd Appearance

I wrote about the value of 2nd appearances 2 years ago, using a set of bronze age blue chip comics as data points.

For this update, I have added another column to include 2020 prices. This is to analyze if buying those 2nd appearances 2 years ago was a profitable but safer strategy vs modern book speculation.

Another improvement is the inclusion of 2020 prices for the characters first appearance books in CGC 9.4. The purpose is to compute the last column which shows the percentage of 2nd appearances vs 1st appearances.

This metric has very interesting investment implication that I will talk about later in the article.

Below is the updated table.

Character2nd appearance 2018 – 9.4 prices2020 – 9.4 pricesFirst app 9.4 pricesPercentage of 2nd/1st
PunisherAmazing Spider-Man #135$495$500$1,70025%
Luke CageHero for Hire #2$160$125$2,5005%
Moon KnightWerewolf by Night #33$300$550$3,50015%
MorbiusAmazing Spider Man #102$360$500$2,50020%
Ghost RiderMarvel Spotlight #6$200$500$5,00010%
BladeTomb of Dracula #12$200$350$2,60013%
Iron FistMarvel Premiere #16$100$109$55018%
Links above are to Ebay. If you buy something, I will get a commission from Ebay as part of its affiliate program. If you want to support my research, using my links to buy from Ebay will be the best way.

Observations

Below are some useful observations

Observation #1: Returns

The first thing to look for are the returns

  • 4 out of the 7 books experienced more than 50-100% returns over the 2 year period.
  • 2 books remain stagnant while the remaining book, Luke Cage #2 declined by 20%. Interesting enough, all 3 characters belong to the Netflix shows, which have been cancelled.

Overall, while there are returns to be made, the right books still matter. The 4 books which surged belong to characters who have confirmed to have movies or heavily rumored.

In contrast, the 3 books that are stagnant or declined had already experienced a run up when the Netflix shows were announced.

Observation #2: Price of 2nd appearance vs first

A more important observation is made available by the new metric I have included. This is the percentage relationship between 1st and 2nd appearances.

By establishing a range of percentages, we can then used it to estimate the likely returns of future 2nd appearance books.

On average, a 2nd appearance is around 10-20% of what a first appearance is commanding. Hence, if a 2nd appearance book is below this range, it is likely to be a good investment candidate if you believe in the law of the average i.e. number tend to trend towards the average.

Why invest in 2nd appearances?

Before proceeding further to the undervalued picks, it is important to understand the benefits of 2nd appearance investment.

These books tend to be ignored, thinking that they are ‘poor man”s choice to invest in a character. However, from an investment point of view, they actually made a lot of sense. Here are 2 reasons why:

Reason #1: Enjoy similar percentage gain as first appearances

Due to the relationship between the first and 2nd appearance, any appreciation in the former will automatically translate to the latter.

This is because you are still essentially investing into the same character. Any growth in the character’s popularity will impact both books.

While the dollar amount is different, the percentage gain is similar. This is what savvy investors should appreciate.

Let’s look a straight forward numerical example for a cleaner illustration. Specially, let’s examine Marvel Spotlight #5 and #6 in 9.4

IssuesPrices in 2018Prices in 2020Dollar GainPercentage Gain
Marvel Spotlight #5$2,000$5,000$3,000150%
Marvel Spotlight #6$200$500$300150%

As investors, it doesn’t matter if you bought into Marvel Spotlight #5 and #6 two year ago as you will experience similar percentage gains.

In fact, the lower dollar capital required by the 2nd appearances should be a big plus point. This is because it offers flexibility to scale your investments according to your capital constraint.

If you want to invest in Marvel Spotlight #5 in 9.4 2 years ago, the minimum you need is $2,000. However, for Marvel Spotlight #6 in 9.4, you can choose to invest in 1 or 5 copies, according to how much you want to invest.

If you invest in 10 copies, the dollar return will be similar to 1 copy of Marvel Spotlight #5 in 9.4.

Other books might have slightly different percentages and numbers but the general benefit still remains:

2nd appearances allow investors to enjoy similar percentage gains as first appearances, with the added benefit of capital flexibility.

Reason #2: Less risk due to lags in prices between first and 2nd appearances

When investing in first appearances, you are essentially betting on the character having sudden gains in popularity, caused by either movies or spec talk. This can be pretty risky as nobody can be 100% sure if a character can really take off.

For 2nd appearances, you are already buying into characters that have a rise in prices for their first appearances. In other words, the characters have proven themselves to be able to capture market interest.

This happens because of there is a lag in price action. For example, if a Marvel Spotlight #5 9.4 suddenly sold for $7000, we will not see Marvel Spotlight #6 9.4 reacting immediately.

Instead, what will happen is that lower grades of Marvel Spotlight #5 will move first before Marvel Spotlight #6 will move. This lag is how you can essentially invest ‘risk-free’.

This risk free benefit, coupled with the above reason of similar percentage gains means that 2nd appearances can be a viable investment asset class to consider.

Undervalued 2nd appearances for bronze age

Based on the above table, it is very easy to see that Luke Cage #2 is currently undervalued. Among the 7 books, it is the only book that is trading below the 10-20% benchmark.

Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #2

Date of Publication: 1972
Sale number: No Information

Key strengths of this book
1. Second appearance of Luke Cage

 

If we assume that the prices of Luke Cage #2 will eventually revert back to 10% of its first appearance, the profit potential is 100% from current prices.

If Luke Cage #2 moves more aggressively, and becomes 15% of first appearance prices, the profit is 200%.

So, depending on much you think this book will mean revert, you can expect a pretty healthy profit margin for your investment.

Conclusion

Such undervalued 2nd appearance books are tough to find because they are trading below what they should be going for. However, if you manage to spot them, they offer very attractive returns within a 2-3 year holding period.

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