Trump’s Truth Social media stock price saw rapid rise

Buoyed by legions of avid supporters, Donald Trump made a bubbly debut on the Nasdaq stock exchange Tuesday.

Shares of Trump Media & Technology Group soared like helium from the opening bell and maintained most of those gains until late in the trading day when a selloff brought Trump’s namesake social media company closer to earth with a closing market value of nearly $8 billion, on par with ride-hailing company Lyft and online marketplace Etsy.

It was also an epic trading day for Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee and Trump Media’s largest shareholder. Shares rose as high as $79.38 before flagging at the end of trade to close at $57.99, close to their low of the day.

His 60% stake in Truth Social’s parent company, which now trades under the ticker DJT, is worth about $4.5 billion on paper. And, if the stock price stays above $17.50 per share for an extended period, tens of millions of additional shares would be issued, most of them to Trump.

Enthusiasm in the MAGA ranks was undercut by the more sober assessment of stock market observers. They say Trump Media’s valuation is divorced from the business realities it faces.

Its flagship product Truth Social, Trump’s bullhorn of choice, is a minor player in a social media landscape dominated by megacorporations like Facebook owner Meta. Trump Media, on the other hand, has racked up tens of millions of dollars in losses and generated sparse sales. And it has struggled to attract advertisers and users since its launch in 2021.

It owes its success to Trump, who is one of Truth Social’s most prolific users and has among the most followers on the platform with nearly 6.8 million. Trump has 34 million followers on Facebook, 24 million on Instagram and more than 87 million on X.

“It’s hard to come up with any reasonable metrics that would get you to this valuation,” Derek Horstmeyer, a finance professor at George Mason University in Virginia, told USA TODAY.

The one-day pop was typical of so-called meme stocks in recent years, like video-game retailer GameStop.Trump supporters banded together on social media to lift the stock even before it completed the merger with Digital World Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, that was already listed on the Nasdaq.

Trump Media & Technology Group stock market trading information is seen on a television at the Nasdaq Marketplace on March 26, 2024 in New York City.Trump Media & Technology Group stock market trading information is seen on a television at the Nasdaq Marketplace on March 26, 2024 in New York City.

Trump Media & Technology Group stock market trading information is seen on a television at the Nasdaq Marketplace on March 26, 2024 in New York City.

The difference here may be that the former president’s fans may continue to lift − rather than dump − the stock.

Trading was exceptionally heavy, according to University of Florida finance professor Jay Ritter. The number of shares available to trade – called the public float – is about 28 million. But more than 52 million shares traded Tuesday. In fact, trading was so intense that Nasdaq temporarily halted it following the opening bell. Typically, trading in most stocks is less than 1% a day.

“Clearly a lot of the buyers and holders are people who are buying it for ideological reasons and plan on holding it for a while,” Ritter said.

That’s not so different from the online traders, mom-and-pop investors, small brokers and others who organized on social media platform Reddit to drive up the price of GameStop and face down hedge funds that were betting against the company and shorting the stock.

“In that regard, GameStop investors were doing it for ideological reasons, too,” Ritter said. “But after the stock price went up, they then sold and the stock price collapsed.”

Nobody knows when the Trump Media bubble will burst, he said. Just because you are a Trump supporter doesn’t mean you will hold it forever, Ritter said.

“In the short run, anything can happen,” he said. “But in the long run, I am highly confident there is going to be a huge percentage decline.”

How much is Truth Social worth?

Those Trump Media shares have handed Trump a crucial lifeline in posting bond as he appeals the civil fraud judgment against him.

A New York appeals court gave Trump 10 more days to post his bond and slashed the amount to $175 million. Trump has been struggling under the weight of not just the $454 million civil fraud judgment, but also an $83.3 million defamation trial loss to advice columnist E. Jean Carroll.

Trump’s gains are all on paper for the time being. He would need Trump Media’s seven-person board to lift a restriction that prevents Trump and other insiders from selling shares or using them as collateral for a bond for the next six months.

The board, which is stacked with allies including his son, Donald Trump Jr., and three former members of his administration, could also hold a secondary offering that would allow Trump to cash out some of his stake in coming months.

This photo illustration shows an image of former President Donald Trump reflected in a phone screen that is displaying the Truth Social app.This photo illustration shows an image of former President Donald Trump reflected in a phone screen that is displaying the Truth Social app.

This photo illustration shows an image of former President Donald Trump reflected in a phone screen that is displaying the Truth Social app.

What is Trump’s net worth?

Truth Social going public means a massive boost to Trump’s net worth, at least on paper.

His shares in Trump Media and the reduction in the bond that Trump must post in a New York civil fraud lawsuit increased his net worth by more than $4 billion Monday, catapulting him into the world’s wealthiest 500 people on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index for the first time.

Why is Truth Social’s ticker DJT?

Research shows that familiar names, such as a former president’s initials, can help a company’s stock performance.

One 2006 study by Princeton University psychologists found that stocks with tickers that are easier to pronounce tend to perform better in the first few days of trading. Another study from Pomona College in 2019 verified earlier research that found clever tickers tend to perform better, partly because they are more memorable to investors.

What is Digital World Acquisition?

Digital World is a SPAC, also known as a blank check company. These publicly traded shell companies exist to acquire or merge with private companies and take them public.

Truth Social’s merger with Digital World was first announced in 2021 when the number of companies going public via SPACs surged. The investment vehicles have since faced criticism for being bad deals for retail investors.

Why did Trump launch Truth Social?

Truth Social was founded after Trump was booted from major social media platforms following the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: DJT, Trump Media and Technology Group stock skyrockets on Nasdaq


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