Move over AOL-Time Warner merger. Bayer's takeover of Monsanto is small potatoes.

Altria Group’s $12.8B investment for a 35 percent stake in Juul Labs announced November 2018 may be the worst deal of all time.

The parent of Philip Morris said Jan. 30 that it took another $4.1B write-down in the e-cigarette company.

That followed a $4.5B write-down in October. The rapidly shrinking value of Juul is now pegged at $4.2B.

Altria warned investors that more pain may be in the works.

It said the latest charge is primarily due to the increased number of legal cases pending against Juul and the expectation is that the number of legal cases will continue to increase.

The number of lawsuits has jumped by 80 percent since October and there “could be adverse developments in pending or future cases,” according to Altria.

The company though gave investors a break. It didn't warn of the myriad of regulatory challenges faced by Juul.

Warren Buffett's Paper Wizard

Long-time newspaper champion Warren Buffett is unloading Berkshire-Hathaway’s 30-member newspaper group, which includes his hometown Omaha World-Herald, to Lee Enterprises, dealing a psychological blow to that troubled media sector.

How eager was the Oracle of Omaha to get BH Media off his hand? He arranged for Berkshire-Hathaway to finance the deal, agreeing to provide a $576M loan to Lee to help pay off $400M in debt.

Buffett, who was a newspaper delivery boy, has been a big fan of papers, reading five of them a day.

Apple created a game in 2019 called “Warren Buffett’s Paper Wizard,” based on his newspaper delivery game. That came following Apple Tim Cook’s appearance at Berkshire-Hathaway’s annual meeting in Omaha in 2019.

In 2016, Buffett said the newspaper business was declining at a faster rate than he anticipated with the dailies getting thinner and thinner.

At the time though, He promised that B-H would never sell a newspaper. “I want to be the last guy standing,” said Buffett.

Take a seat, Warren.

At long last, the Iowa caucus is almost here, and it’s not a minute too soon for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who ranks on top of Group SJR’s Storytelling Index.

Iowa Caucuses

The WPP unit shared video clips of the top six leading Democratic presidential contenders during their Jan. 14 Des Moines debate with a group of Iowa and New Hampshire, which holds the first primary, voters. It gauged voters on SJR’s three pillars of storytelling (wisdom, wonder and delight).

Sanders scored the highest in each, doing especially well in the wonder pillar as his “think big” message inspired voters across demographic groups.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren came in second. Addressing the challenges facing Americans and her plans to tackle them was a “textbook case” of conflict and resolution, according to SJR. Her presentation scored high marks among college-educated voters but not so much among those who did not go to college or non-white voters.

Ex-South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg needs to “turn the page.” He scored low among non-whites and less-educated voters, which may not hurt him in Iowa and New Hampshire but he’s toast elsewhere.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar did well among voters over 55 in the poll, making her a dark horse for New Hampshire.

Former Vice President Joe Biden came in dead last as his message lacked a beginning, middle and end, according to SJR.

The Iowa results will tell us if SJR's storytelling index is, using one of Biden’s favorite phrases, just a bunch of malarkey.