The iPad will hit stores on Saturday and preliminary reports indicate that people are buying. Apple (AAPL) has sold out of its pre-ordered inventory as consumers plop down anywhere from $499 to $829 for the device. Morgan Stanley is anticipating a better-than-expected 6 million units to be sold this year.
Apple's creme de la creme of iPads is the 64GB with WiFi and 3G capabilities, which goes for $829 plus tax. Although AT&T (T) is not forcing a two-year contract, unlimited data costs $29.99 a month, which comes out to $719.76 for the same duration plus tax, bringing the grand total for an iPad to $1,548.75. The iPad isn't really investable; a consumer will hold onto it until a newer version comes out, when he'll be forced to buy a new one. So what else can you buy for $1,600? How about gold? Gold prices are trading in a tight range around $1,100 an ounce. Many analysts anticipate that prices will break their record high of $1,227 later this year. Gold is already making new highs in other currencies like the euro, yen and sterling. More bullish traders expect gold to reach their inflation-adjusted price of $2,500 an ounce within the next few years. Famed investors like Dennis Gartman, Jim Rogers,David Einhorn, John Paulson and George Soros have all been buying the precious metal. George Soros almost tripled his gold holdings of SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) from 2.5 million shares to 6.2 million shares in the fourth quarter of 2009. Paulson & Co. remains the largest holder of GLD with 31.5 million shares. So if you want to put that $1,600 to better use, here's what it can get you. Pure gold: For $1,600, you can buy one ounce of gold, or 1/16 of a pound. The United States Mint is selling the 2009 American Buffalo 1-ounce gold proof coin for $1,410. The coin contains one ounce of .9999 fine, 24 karat gold. According to Kitco's website, a one-ounce gold bar comes the closest to gold's spot price and sells for $1,135.40. However, storing gold items can be pricey. An at-home vault is an option but many people prefer to use a safety deposit box. At a Bank of America (BAC) branch in New York, a small box can be purchased for $44 a year. So buying a gold bar and storing it for two years would cost $1,223.40.
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