Washington Post (NYSE: WPO)
First Shares Purchased: 1973
Date Sold: Still Held
Amount Made: $720 million (Unrealized)
Percentage Gain: 6,500 percent (Unrealized)
In 1973, Buffett started purchasing shares of the parent company which owned the Washington Post. By the end of the year, he had about 10 percent in non-controlling shares. In 1974, the famous investor joined the board of directors. He became close friends with Katherine Graham, then the Post’s controlling shareholder, and who had overseen the paper during its best years, including the Watergate scandal. By the fourth quarter of 2004, Buffett owned 1.7 million shares at a cost basis of $11 million, and had increased his stake of the company to 18.1 percent. At that time, the market value of those shares was $1.698 billion. That represents an unrealized gain of $1.7 billion and an increase of 15,336.4 percent. However, since 2004 the newspaper industry has suffered, and shares of WPO have declined more than 50 percent, and Berkshire’s stake is now only worth about $730 million. That still represents a gain of about $720 million and a 6,500 percent increase. Warren Buffett has just announced he will step down from the board of directors at the Post. Multiple reports indicate that Buffett plans to hold those shares and focus more on Berkshire Hathaway.
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)