Donald Trump-affiliated media company experiences significant surge in stock market debut

Donald Trump-affiliated media company experiences significant surge in stock market debut
  • By Natalie Sherman
  • Business reporter, New York

Image source, Getty Images

Shares in Donald Trump’s media company soared as the firm made its formal debut on the stock market.

Shares surged past $70 in early trade, giving the firm a market value of more than $9bn. They ended the day at about $58, still up more than 16%.

The long-awaited moment will inject more than $200m into Trump Media & Technology Group and hands the former president a stake worth more than $4bn.

Analysts say that is far more than the firm’s performance warrants.

Trump Media’s Truth Social, a Twitter-like service, brought in just $3.3m in revenue in the first nine months of last year and lost nearly $50m.

It says 8.9 million accounts have been created since the platform launched to the general public in 2022 as an alternative to mainstream sites such as Facebook, but it is not clear how many are active.

By comparison, the recently-listed Reddit currently has a market value of about $11bn. It boasts more than 70 million users and brought in $800m in revenue last year.

Kristi Marvin, chief executive of SPACInsider, compared Trump Media – which trades under the ticker DJT for Mr Trump’s initials – to a meme stock, in which prices are untethered from the business prospects.

Interest in Trump Media has also been fuelled by individual investors, as opposed to Wall Street firms, many of them apparently Trump supporters.

“Everybody expected to trade a little bit crazy today, which it has,” she said. “The real question is how does it trade a week from now, two weeks from now and nobody really knows.”

The deal to list Trump Media was first announced in 2021.

The move was accomplished via what is known as a SPAC, a merger with a publicly listed shell company, Digital World Acquisition Corp, which was expressly created to buy a company and take it public.

The deal was delayed by government investigations and other hurdles, but regulators cleared it earlier this year and Digital World shareholders voted in favour last week.

Ahead of the listing on the Nasdaq exchange, Trump Media officials called it a “pivotal moment” for the firm – and the wider media landscape.

“As a public company, we will passionately pursue our vision to build a movement to reclaim the Internet from Big Tech censors,” said Trump Media chief executive Devin Nunes, a former congressman.

“We will continue to fulfil our commitment to Americans to serve as a safe harbour for free expression and to stand up to the ever-growing army of speech suppressors.”

The debut comes at a critical moment for Mr Trump, who has been scrambling for cash to pay legal penalties and owns more than half of the firm’s shares.

He is currently barred from selling his holdings for at least six months, making it difficult for him to tap the windfall immediately.

The company’s board, which is stocked with allies including one of his sons, could potentially change that rule, but analysts have said they think that would be unlikely to happen immediately.

If Mr Trump were to sell a significant chunk of his shares, it could hurt the share price.

Investors face other risks as well, tied to Mr Trump’s political fortunes and his 2024 presidential campaign.

A loss might be expected to hurt the share price, but a win could have the opposite effect, especially if it generated further demand from buyers hoping to curry favour with Mr Trump, said Michael Ohlrogge, a law professor at New York University.

However, Prof Ohlrogge said the current share price is “far, far elevated above what anyone would consider its fundamental value”.

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