Buffett despairs of newspapers

05 May 2009

OMAHA: Legendary US investor Warren Buffett, who began his working life as a newspaper delivery boy and is the largest shareholder in The Washington Post, has given the industry the thumbs down at the annual meeting of his Berkshire Hathaway investment company, attended by around 35,000 shareholders.

“For most newspapers in the United States, we would not buy them at any price,” said Buffett. “They have the possibility of going to just unending losses.”

Buffett argued that newspapers were no longer essential to advertisers because of the proliferation of other news sources, chiefly the internet.

On Friday the Post reported an $18.7m (€14m; £12.5m) quarterly loss on a 33% slump in advertising sales and restructuring charges.

The world's pre-eminent newspaper magnate, News Corporation'sRupert Murdoch whose company owns the Wall Street Journal, and The Times and The Sun in London, will offer his own take on proceedings when he announces News Corp's third quarter earnings this week.

Analysts at Credit Suisse expect News Corp's newspaper division to report operating profits of just $7m for the quarter, down from $216m a year earlier.

Overall they expect News Corp's profits to slump 46% to $778m with the only gains to come from cable TV and filmed entertainment.

Data sourced from Sydney Morning Herald; additional content by WARC staff