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商业 - 传媒与文化

巴菲特为什么不买下《华盛顿邮报》

Stephen Gandel 2013年08月07日

《华盛顿邮报》是美国最富盛名的报纸之一,但它员工队伍庞大,同时又偏爱“水门事件”那样高投入的调查性报道。因此,看好社区性报纸的巴菲特没有出手,尽管他长期以来一直持有《华盛顿邮报》的股份,而且最近还收购了多份报纸。

    《华盛顿邮报》(the Washington Post)的收购交易再次表明,沃伦•巴菲特对报纸的兴趣有限。

    巴菲特的伯克希尔哈撒韦公司(Berkshire Hathaway)是《华盛顿邮报》的最大外部投资者,已经持股40年,目前所持股份略高于170万股。按照周一盘后交易价格计算,亚马逊(Amazon)首席执行官杰夫•贝佐斯收购这份重量级报纸后,巴菲特所持股份的价值已增至4,500万美元(2.78亿元人民币)。

    但伯克希尔哈撒韦的整体收益远不止于此。巴菲特从1973年就开始买进《华盛顿邮报》的股份。2008年,这家公司在年报中称,它手中的《华盛顿邮报》股票价值6.74亿美元(41.59亿元人民币),持股成本1,100万美元(6787万元人民币)。贝佐斯收购该报后,巴菲特所持股份的价值已达到约10亿美元(61.7亿元人民币)。

    那么,如果以往业绩能体现未来收益水平,大家可能会认为巴菲特对报纸的青睐程度稍稍上升了一些。而实际上,巴菲特最近确实频繁表态,表明自己是多么的喜欢报纸,他还在过去两年中收购了大概30份日报。

    但在很长一段时间内,巴菲特一直都没有增持《华盛顿邮报》的股票。伯克希尔哈撒韦在网上披露的财务数据最早可追溯到1999年。当时它持有170万股《华盛顿邮报》股份,目前依然如此。

    《华盛顿邮报》表示,贝佐斯以个人身份收购该报之前,投行人士曾接触过六位潜在买家。考虑到巴菲特和该报的长期渊源以及最近他一直在报纸领域进行收购,将巴菲特列入潜在买家的行列并不突兀。最起码,《华盛顿邮报》首席执行官唐纳德•格雷厄姆有可能向巴菲特兜售过这份报纸,而后者可能也认为抛售这份充满传奇色彩的报纸的时机已经成熟。巴菲特拒绝就《华盛顿邮报》转让一事发表评论。

    尽管最近收购了很多份报纸,但巴菲特对美国最主要的几份日报一直敬而远之。今年早些时候,巴菲特说他无意收购论坛报业集团(Tribune Co.)旗下那些待价而沽的报纸,其中包括《芝加哥论坛报》(Chicago Tribune)和《洛杉矶时报》(Los Angeles Times)。巴菲特曾经表示,他认为专门报道当地新闻,以严密社区为立足点的报纸具有价值。

    不过,考虑到巴菲特长期投资于《华盛顿邮报》,也许大家原以为他会为后者破例。价格似乎并不是问题所在。从平均值来看,巴菲特一直在按每位读者500美元(3,085元人民币)的价格收购报纸。贝佐斯收购《华盛顿邮报》的价格与之类似——每位读者520美元(3,208.4元人民币)。不过,考虑到贝佐斯还得到了其他几份规模较小的报纸,按读者数量计算的收购价可能低于这个数字。也就是说,贝佐斯的收购价完全在巴菲特可接受的范围内。

    相反,真正的问题似乎是,《华盛顿邮报》是美国最有影响力的报纸之一,员工队伍大,偏爱成本昂贵的调查性报道,巴菲特是否认为买下这份报纸是笔好买卖。看来,他在评估之后给出了否定的回答。(财富中文网)

    译者:Charlie  

    With the sale of the Washington Post, Warren Buffett is once again showing the limits of his love affair with newspapers.

    Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) is the largest outside investor in The Washington Post Co. (WPO) and has held the stock for four decades. Berkshire holds just over 1.7 million shares. The sale of the flagship paper to Amazon (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos pushed the value of Buffett's holding in the company up $45 million in after-hours trading on Monday.

    But Berkshire's overall gain is far bigger than that. Buffett first began buying shares back in 1973. In 2008, Berkshire in its annual report said the position was worth $674 million and had a cost basis of $11 million. After the sale, Buffett's stake is now worth about a billion.

    So if past performance is an indication of future gains, you would think Buffett's heart for newspapers just grew a little fonder. And indeed, Buffett has been talking a lot recently about how much he likes newspapers, and he has bought about 30 daily newspapers in the past two years.

    But Buffett hasn't added to his stake in The Washington Post Co. in a long time. The oldest financial disclosure you can get for Berkshire Hathaway online is from 1999. Back then, the company owned 1.7 million shares of The Washington Post Co., which is the same as now.

    And The Washington Post Co. said its bankers approached six other potential buyers before making a deal with Bezos, who is buying the paper personally. Given Buffett's long history with the company and the fact that he has been buying papers recently, it's not a stretch to assume Buffett was in that group of people who passed. At the very least, it's likely that Donald Graham, the Post's CEO, ran the sale past Buffett and that the billionaire agreed it was time to let the storied paper go. Buffett declined to comment on the paper's sale.

    Despite his newspaper buying spree, Buffett has avoided the nation's biggest dailies. Earlier in the year, Buffett said he wasn't interested in buying the group of papers owned by the Tribune Co., which includes the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, which appear to be on the block. Buffett has said he sees value in newspapers in tight-knit communities that specialize in local news.

    Still, you might have expected Buffett to make an exception for The Washington Post given his long history with the paper. The problem doesn't seem to be price. On average, Buffett has been paying about $500 per customer for the papers he has bought. Bezos is paying about the same amount -- $520 per customer of the flagship paper -- but he is also getting a few smaller papers in the deal, which would bring down his cost per subscriber number. So that was well in Buffett's range.

    Instead, it appears it really came down to whether Buffett thought the business of owning one of the most influential papers in the country, with its large staff and taste for expensive investigative stories, is a good business. It appears Buffett's assessment was no.

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