The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

April 29, 2012

Tom Lavis | Portfolio of Penguins paraphernalia


— I  finally understand what people mean when they say professional sports is only a business.

I came to that realization a week ago when the Pittsburgh Penguins took a nosedive against their arch rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Penguins were eliminated in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Was I disappointed?

No, I was crushed.

But I’m afraid my wife, a more devoted fan than I, may need counseling to help her recover.

I give the Flyers all the credit in the world for bringing their A game. They are playing a style of hockey that should serve them well for the remainder of the playoffs.

For me and my wife, our investment of time and money in supporting the Penguins runs parallel with the state of the economy.

Comparing our sports portfolio in terms of Wall Street lingo, we suffered a crash.

As with a stock market crash, our downturn now comes from a lack of confidence.

It looks as if we may have to liquidate some of our assets, particularly the game jerseys that we have invested in over the past five years.

It may be too early to speculate, but my wife’s Jordan Staal jersey may suffer the same fate as her Max Talbot sweater.

After proudly wearing her Talbot jersey for one season, the Penguins lost the fan favorite to Philadelphia and the salary cap.

She now stores the No. 25 jersey in a cedar chest.

We also own jerseys endorsing Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury and Tyler Kennedy.

If I had been buying stocks instead of jerseys, and with my track record, I most likely would have gone all in on shares of Eastman Kodak.

Who would have ever predicted that Kodak would get out of the camera business? I never pictured it.

But jerseys make up only one portion of our Penguin portfolio.

Many other items were purchased on margin, which means buying something on borrowed funds.

Translation: I bought a lot of that stuff with a credit card, which still has a substantial balance.

I was particularly optimistic that 2012 would be the year that Penguins stock would skyrocket.

My return on the investment is now iffy at best.

It looks as if I’ll have to come up with a leverage strategy to divest myself of poor performing items.

With a long-term investment of stockpiling Pittsburgh Penguins jerseys, jackets, hooded sweatshirts, T-shirts, vehicle license plates, steering wheel covers, ball caps, floor mats and a wristwatch, I obviously used a flawed fundamental analysis in my approach.

Had I used a technical analysis, perhaps I could have convinced my wife not to invest in many of the same items, plus a kitchen clock, shower curtain and logo flags for the front porch and car.

We should have purchased only blue chip performers, such as Mario Lemieux memorabilia.

I’m wondering if there is a tax loophole that I could use to get back some of our money.

I’ve heard that when a company fails to perform, an investor may be able to write off the amount as a bad debt and claim a tax deduction.

But fiscal obligations vary, so I decided to call an expert.

I telephoned my accountant, Sam Shady of Shady, Fishy and Krooks, to ask how best to recoup my losses.

“The key to recouping investment losses is to bail out before the ship goes down,” Sam said.

That’s not the advice I wanted to hear because the one thing I don’t own is a Penguins life vest.

In business and in sports, the fundamental aim is to succeed while satisfying customers.

I’m feeling emotionally bankrupt.

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