《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。
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。
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.