While a slump in advertising spending has been challenging for much of the newspaper industry, Buffett believes that local news is immune. That's one of the biggest reasons why he's been making such a big bet on it through MEG. While this firm is financially less robust than the others on the list, its broad collection of assets in the Southeast helps to make up for it. A tight financial relationship with Berkshire should help ensure that MEG has the wherewithal it needs to weather any speed bumps along the way back to profitability.
While General Motors (GM) wasn't one of Berkshire's four new positions, it was a significant one in the last quarter -- the firm upped its stake in the automaker by 50%, adding another 5 million shares to its portfolio. That gives Berkshire a $341 million interest in General Motors at current price levels.
General Motors emerged from bankruptcy with little in common with its former self: its balance sheet was more flush, its cars were better built, and its reputation was restored -- with everyone except for investors, that is. Not surprisingly, a bankruptcy where shareholders get wiped out leaves a bad taste in most people's mouths. But GM has been working hard to show investors that it's back; record profitability this year certainly doesn't hurt.Liquidity isn't a problem today for GM -- the firm currently boasts more than $40 billion in cash and investments on its balance sheet. Selling cars isn't an issue either -- a more streamlined brand portfolio has left GM with more logical sales funnels and build quality actually has consumers buying American again. Recently announced deals to give GM more control over its captive finance arm should be a big boost in the arm for sales, especially with interest rates floating near zero right now.
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