DAVENPORT – Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett has bought stock in Lee Enterprises out of Davenport.
Lee Enterprises also owns the Quad City Times in Davenport. Buffett bought 3% of the stock in the company, something that became official Tuesday. The news was very pleasing to Lee Enterprises who had known about the purchase since March 31st.
“It’s where you go in our markets for local news,” Lee Enterprises CEO Mary Junck said of the strength of local newspapers. “We’re the ones generating the local news, so we really make a lot of difference in the communities we serve.”
Currently, Lee Enterprises is in $965 million of debt. While the company is trying to shed some of that, some are wondering if Buffett’s investment could cut down on even more of it.
“I think that he sees among other things the vital role that what we do plays in our communities,” Junck said of Buffett. “If we don’t cover it, it’s not going to get covered.”
Lee Enterprises owns 52 different newspapers across the country, another of which is the Muscatine Journal. Since Buffett was a kid, he’s always been fond of the business.
“In towns and cities where there is a strong sense of community,” Buffett told CNN Money, “there is no more important institution than the local paper.”
Interesting enough, Lee Enterprises stock ended $.35 higher on the Nazdaq Tuesday at a $1.50 a share. Junck says even though newspapers have faced a lot of tough times, they are still a very profitable business.