Michael Hiltzik: With his Truth Social stock, Trump may be laughing all the way to the bank -- but his investors have reason to weep

Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

With their life savings, childrens' college funds and their own retirement prospects at stake, most people probably view investing in stocks as a serious business. Now and then, however, the markets produce comedy gold.

Hello, Trump Media & Technology Group.

The owner of Truth Social, a social media platform exclusively hitched to Donald Trump, staged an initial public offering March 26 amid a torrent of speculation over how many billions the IPO would produce for Trump himself. In the event, the figure was a paper gain of about $5 billion for him, virtually pure profit.

The cult of Trump had sent the shares soaring as high as $79.38 on that first day, valuing the company at about $9.5 billion. By the end of the day it had settled back to $57.99. Since then, it has mostly been on the schneid, falling steadily.

Shares closed Wednesday at $26.40. That brings the shares' slide since they peaked at $79.38 on March 26 to about 66.7%.

Trump, who loves hyperbole, might revel in a three-week plunge that could be some sort of a record. Whether he would call it "beautiful," one of his favorite superlatives, is another question.


The slide has pared the market value of Trump Media by more than $6 billion from its peak. Trump is still sitting on a paper holding worth more than $2 billion, but his outside investors, many of whom are small investors who bought at or near the top, have been been taken to the abattoir.

"I think they're dopes," the veteran entertainment executive Barry Diller said of Trump Media's investors during a CNBC appearance on April 4.

That's not to say, given the stock's volatility, that it might not recover and end up in the green for the day, though whether it can recover the full 69.8% loss, even over time, is subject to doubt.

Still, the raw numbers, being right there for everyone to view in bright red, aren't as interesting as the underlying grift. Let's examine that.


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