A Quick History of The Washington Post Company-Warren Buffet Way
In 1931, the Washington Post company was one of the five dailies competing for readers in the USA’s capital. In 1933, the Post was unable to pay for its newsprint. So, the company was sold at auction to satisfy creditors. Eugene Meyer, a millionaire financier, bought the Washington Post for $ 8,25,000. It took him two decades to turn into a profit.
Katharine Graham was the daughter of Eugene Meyer, who was handling the Washington Post from 1963 onward. Warren Buffet had first met Katharine Graham in 1971.
In 1971, Katharine Graham decided to take the Washington Post public. In 1972, the price of Washington Post share climbed steadily from $ 24.75 in January to $ 38 in December.
But from 1973 onward, the USA economy entered into stagflation. The Dow Jones index was heading downward.
And all the while, Buffet was quietly buying shares in the Washington Post. By June 1973, he had purchased 4,67,150 shares at an average price of $ 22.75, a purchase of worth $ 10,628,000.
At first, Katharine Graham was unnerved. The idea of a non-family member owning so much Post stock, even though, it was non-controlling, was unsettling. Buffet assured Mrs Graham that Berkshire’s purchase was for investment purposes only.
The question is raised, what prompted Warren Buffet to make an investment in Washington Post? The answer may lie in his previous experience in the newspaper industry.
In 1969, Buffet bought his first major newspaper, the Omaha Sun, along with a group of weekly papers. Although he respected high-quality journalism, Buffet thought of newspapers first always as a business. He expected profits, not influence, to be the rewards for the paper’s owner. Owning the Omaha Sun taught him the business dynamics of newspaper. He had four years of handsome experience owning a newspaper before he bought his first share of the Washington Post.
To conclude, though Warren Buffet had taken the decision of making an investment in the Washington Post, that decision was not based on purely financial statements. He has intuition based on his earlier real working experience of the newspaper industry.