Trump’s Truth Social debuts on the stock market. Here’s what you need to know.

David Brancaccio, Alex Schroeder, and Natalie White Mar 27, 2024
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"Will [Trump Media and Technology Group] be highly profitable in the future, that could justify such a high valuation? Very unlikely," said the University of Florida's Jay Ritter. Anna Barclay/Getty Images

Trump’s Truth Social debuts on the stock market. Here’s what you need to know.

David Brancaccio, Alex Schroeder, and Natalie White Mar 27, 2024
Heard on:
"Will [Trump Media and Technology Group] be highly profitable in the future, that could justify such a high valuation? Very unlikely," said the University of Florida's Jay Ritter. Anna Barclay/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Former President Donald Trump’s media company is now officially publicly traded. Shares of Trump Media & Technology Group, the parent company of Truth Social, are trading on the Nasdaq after Trump’s business merged with a publicly traded shell company.

At the beginning of trading Tuesday, Trump Media was valued at around a striking $10 billion. Early on in its first day of trading, Trump Media & Technology Group corporation soared 59%, then dropped back toward Earth in the last hour. It ended at $57.99 — a gain of 16% on the day.

There are some questions, however, about the underlying business of Trump’s social media platform and how that translates to stock price. For more on this, “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio spoke with Jay Ritter, a professor of finance at the University of Florida. The following is an edited version of their conversation.

David Brancaccio: Would an analyst see $10 billion of actual value?

Jay Ritter: If you look at the company, as a result of this SPAC merger, it’s got about $300 million of cash. But will it be highly profitable in the future, that could justify such a high valuation? Very unlikely. The company only has annual revenue of about $5 million. It’s losing money. And in terms of where does it get that revenue? Well, it’s a combination of advertising and paying subscribers, but neither of those sources of revenue is growing very rapidly. So this valuation is just crazy.

Brancaccio: So it may not be an investment in the traditional sense of investment, it may be more like putting a Trump for president placard out in front of your house, a sign of support for a candidate, maybe?

Ritter: My guess is that almost everybody buying the stock are Trump supporters. Where it’s more a purchase out of showing loyalty rather than thinking about this as a good long-term investment.

Brancaccio: Now, as the majority shareholder former President Trump’s net worth on paper right now has increased significantly given the stock price and that company’s valuation. This is a potential windfall for Mr. Trump in the billions of dollars. But my understanding is company rules are he can’t sell right now and cash out. Could the company change that rule?

Ritter: As a standard with the SPAC mergers, shareholders are locked up typically for six months — as is the case here. His lockup prohibits selling but also using the stock as collateral for a loan. Now, the board of directors, in theory, could waive this six-month lockup, but if they did so, the stock price would probably immediately drop. So the ability to convert this paper wealth into cash is pretty limited.

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