Washington Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein: ‘Dear Mr. Buffett: About Those Newspapers . . .’


I have to say I was surprised by your remark, and not simply because of your lifelong love of the newspaper business. As a “value” investor, you surely must acknowledge that this is the opportunity of a lifetime as far as newspaper investing is concerned. For close to nothing, investors can pick up some of the most respected regional brands in the news business, along with their (shrinking) lists of advertisers and subscribers. They can obtain modern printing presses for a fraction of their original cost. And they are able to hire from a deep pool of talented journalists, pressmen, salesmen and circulation experts desperate for jobs.

Your mentor, Benjamin Graham, was always on the lookout for what he called “cigar butts” — cheap and unloved companies that had been tossed aside but still had a couple of good puffs left in them. If the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Rocky Mountain News, Chicago Tribune and Boston Globe don’t qualify as “cigar butts,” I can’t imagine what would.

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