April 13th, 2024

Trump’s social media company soars nearly 50% in its first day of trading on Nasdaq

By The Associated Press on March 26, 2024.

FILE - The Truth Social account for former President Donald Trump is seen on a mobile device, Wednesday, March 20, 2024, in New York. Trump Media & Technology Group, whose flagship product is social networking site Truth Social, will begin trading on the Nasdaq stock market on Tuesday, March 26, 2024. The common stock of Trump Media & Technology Group will trade under the ticker symbol “DJT.” (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

NEW YORK (AP) – Shares of Donald Trump’s social media company jumped nearly 50% in the first day of trading on the Nasdaq, boosting the value of Trump’s large holdings in the company as well as the smaller stakes of fans who purchased shares as a show of support for the former president.

Trump Media & Technology Group Corp. was acquired Monday by a blank-check company called Digital World Acquisition Corp. Trump Media, which runs the social media platform Truth Social, has now taken Digital World’s place on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

Before trading began, Trump Media had a market value of about $6.8 billion, a figure that will rise significantly if the early gains in the shares hold. The shares are trading under the ticker symbol “DJT.” Trump holds a nearly 60% ownership stake in the company. As of 9:55 a.m. ET, the shares were up 47% to $73.50.

Many of Trump Media’s investors are small-timers either trying to support Trump or aiming to cash in on the mania, instead of big institutional and professional investors. Those shareholders helped the stock of Digital World more than double this year in anticipation of the merger going through.

These investors could experience a bumpy ride. For one, they’re betting on a company with vague prospects of turning a profit. Trump Media lost $49 million in the first nine months of last year, when it brought in just $3.4 million in revenue and had to pay $37.7 million in interest expenses. In a recent regulatory filing, the company cited the high rate of failure for new social media platforms, as well as the company’s expectation that it will lose money on its operations “for the foreseeable future” as risks for investors.

Truth Social launched in February 2022, one year after Trump was banned from major social platforms including Facebook and X, formerly Twitter, following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. He’s since been reinstated to both but has stuck with Truth Social.

On Monday, Trump appeared in court in New York at hearing for a criminal case involving hush money payments made to cover up claims of marital infidelity. Afterwards, Trump told reporters that “Truth Social is doing very well. It’s hot as a pistol and doing great.”

However, Trump Media has yet to disclose Truth Social’s user numbers – although that should change now that the company is public. Research firm Similarweb estimates that Truth Social had roughly 5 million active mobile and web users in February. That’s far below TikTok’s more than 2 billion and Facebook’s 3 billion – but still higher than other “alt-tech” rivals like Parler, which has been offline for nearly a year but is planning a comeback, or Gettr, which had less than 2 million visitors in February.

Besides competition in the social media field, Trump Media faces other risks – including to some degree Trump.

Trump Media, which is based in Palm Beach, Florida, said in a regulatory filing that it “is highly dependent on the popularity and presence of President Trump.” If the former president were to limit or discontinue his relationship with the company for any reason, including due to his campaign to regain the presidency, the company “would be significantly disadvantaged.”

Acknowledging Trump’s involvement in numerous legal proceedings, the company noted that “an adverse outcome in one or more” of the cases could negatively affect Trump Media and Truth Social.

Another risk, the company said, was that as a controlling stockholder, Trump would be entitled to vote his shares in his own interest, which may not always be in the interests of all the shareholders generally.

If recent trading activity is any indication, investors should expect the shares to be volatile. Digital World shares more than doubled this year ahead of a shareholder vote on the merger with Trump Media. After the vote Friday, shares dropped almost 14%, but Monday they rebounded strongly with a gain of 35%.

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