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Trump Media shares plummet 21% days after debut

By Yuvraj Malik and Priyanka G

(Reuters) -Shares of Donald Trump's social media company plunged 21% on Monday, wiping out the gains from its debut last week, after disclosing millions in losses and saying it would struggle to meet its financial liabilities going forward.

Trump Media & Technology Group lost more than $58 million in 2023, it said in a filing, sending shares reeling less than a week after the Truth Social parent went public through a high-profile blank-check merger.

The stock surged in its March 26 debut to close at nearly $58 a share on retail buyer enthusiasm, including supporters of Trump, the likely Republican nominee in 2024's presidential election. But Monday's disclosure reversed that trend, sending shares down $13.30, or 21%, to $48.66.

"Truth Social was overvalued and that reality is dragging down the stock. Because the service does have not have a clear path to profitability and its revenues are meager, its high debut was unsustainable," said Ross Benes, analyst at Insider Intelligence.

Trump owns 78.75 million shares, which could result in a big windfall for the former president, depending on their value. At the stock's peak last week, his stake would have been more than $6 billion, but after the selloff it would be valued at about $3.8 billion. Trump is not allowed to sell or borrow against any of his shares for six months - and any move by him to try to alter that agreement would likely trigger more selling.

Even with the stock's decline, it still has a market value of more than $6 billion, compared with social media platform Reddit's market capitalization of $8 billion.

"TMTG enjoyed a huge run-up on hype and enthusiasm, but it is a long way off from becoming a true scaled social media challenger to X (Twitter), Instagram, TikTok and other platforms," said Michael Ashley Schulman, analyst at Running Point Capital.

SHORT SELLERS RECOUP LOSSES

Short sellers targeting both Trump Media and its predecessor Digital World Acquisition recouped a sizeable chunk of their year-to-date losses on Monday. The selloff yielded a $65 million gain on paper for short sellers, cutting year-to-date losses to $126 million, according to financial technology and analytics firm S3 Partners.

"Demand is sky-high to short DJT, but any borrow supply is very scarce and extremely hard to locate," said Matthew Unterman, director at S3.

Truth Social's revenue was $4.13 million last year, up from $1.47 million in 2022, it said. By comparison, Reddit brought in revenue of $800 million in 2023.

The latter has 73 million active users, whereas Truth Social only discloses its total number of sign-ups, which come to 8.9 million. In its filing on Monday, TMTG said it has no plans to disclose key metrics generally used by similar companies.

"As of December 31, 2023 and 2022, management has substantial doubt that TMTG will have sufficient funds to meet its liabilities as they fall due, including liabilities related to promissory notes previously issued by TMTG," the company said.

Trump Media is also embroiled in a legal battle with co-founders Wesley Moss and Andrew Litinsky. On Monday, a Delaware judge said he wanted the parties to set a hearing date this month to determine if the two should receive the 8.6% stake in the company they claim they are owed.

Trump Media and the pair have sued each other in Delaware and Florida state courts. The co-founders accused Trump Media of trying to improperly dilute their stake, while the company said they had failed to earn their shares and that it wants to strip them of their ownership.

(Reporting by Yuvraj Malik and Priyanka G in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware and Saqib Ahmed in New York; Editing by David Gaffen, Arun Koyyur, Anil D'Silva and Krishna Chandra Eluri)