Washington Post buys hospice company

Talk about a dying industry. The Washington Post Co. risked becoming the punch line of an obvious joke this morning with the announcement that it has acquired a majority stake in a hospice company.

Hospice? Not as strange as it sounds if you know the company’s ways. It has a particular fondness for “a long-term investment horizon,” as Chairman Donald Graham said in a press release. Not knowing the particular competitive advantage of the company (Celtic Healthcare), my hunch is that Graham figured that people his age and mine are going to need hospice care. Later rather than sooner, we may hope, but the huge baby boomer cohort has rounded the corner to senior citizen status. And it is a fair bet that the government and insurers will cover hospice care since it is so much less expensive than an extended end-of-life hospital stay.

There is precedent. Kaplan Educational Services was small when the Post bought it in 1984 and grew slowly for 15 years or so before it took off to become the company’s largest division.


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