Some commentators, including InvestorPlace columnist Will Ashworth, have stated unequivocally that buying shares of special-purpose acquisition company Digital World Acquisition (NASDAQ:DWAC) at its current levels is stupid. DWAC stock soared from around $10 a share to a high of $175 in October when it was announced the blank-check company would merge with Trump Media & Technology Group. Today, shares sit around $85.
Trump Media & Technology Group is behind social media platform Truth Social, which is being developed by former President Donald Trump and scheduled to launch on Feb. 21. Given the former president’s large fan base and the platform’s “free speech” marketing angle, I believe it has an excellent chance of becoming very popular. As a result, I believe that DWAC stock can continue to rally, and I own a relatively small number of its shares.
I’m far from certain, however, of exactly how successful Truth Social will be. Here are, in my view, the three most likely scenarios for the upcoming social media platform.
Base-Case Scenario (50% Probability)
The base-case scenario for the platform is that Truth Social attracts a large portion of Trump’s base and makes significant inroads in other demographics.
In this scenario, drawn by the former president’s dynamic personality, unpredictability and fame, the majority of his fan base become active users of Truth Social.
Also becoming active users of the app are 10%-15% of the Americans who find Trump’s personality and some of his previous comments and conduct repulsive. Some of these consumers will sign up because they belong to marginalized groups — such as Evangelicals, religious Catholics, laid-off factory workers, unskilled workers and pro-Israel activists — that believe they benefited in various ways from Trump’s presidency.
Millions of others who don’t like Trump’s persona and parts of his history will join the platform primarily because they agree with some or most of his ideas on issues such as immigration, crime or trade. As a result, they will want to see what he has to say about these matters.
Finally, millions of other Americans will join Truth Social primarily because they are anti-political-correctness, oppose censorship based on differences of opinion, don’t want to go through the hassle of being censored themselves on Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) and YouTube, or want to be exposed to anti-establishment views.
By the end of its first year, in this scenario, the monthly active user (MAU) base for Truth Social is close to 100 million.
In a previous column on DWAC stock, I estimated that Truth Social could generate more than $900 million in revenue and a profit of $180 million. I think that those numbers are a good estimate of what the company’s first-year results would be if my base-case scenario materializes.
Better-Than-Expected Scenario (25% Probability)
Let’s assume Truth Social’s usage greatly surpasses my base-case estimate. In the scenario, 80% to 90% of all Trump fans join Truth Social, along with many famous conservative personalities.
Attracted by riveting content and great debates, 40% to 60% of Republicans and conservative-leaning independents sign up for the service. Meanwhile, 10%-15% of Democrats, left-leaning independents and apolitical individuals, who are curious by what will be said next and eager for an open exchange of ideas, become active users as well. Many tens of millions of overseas consumers also become MAUs in this scenario.
As a result of these developments, Truth Social’s MAU at the end of its first year could be 200 million to 300 million.
In this scenario, Truth Social could become as large and as lucrative as Twitter by mid-2023. Over the past 12 months, Twitter has generated $4.8 billion in revenue and $357.5 million in operating income.
Worse-Than-Expected Scenario (25% Probability)
In the worst-case scenario, Truth Social’s usage comes in well below the base case and/or the platform is shut down.
In this scenario, Truth Social’s content is subpar, consisting mostly of longtime conservative talking points and Trump’s statements that do not contain much original material. The platform fails to attract many popular, interesting commentators or to lure most of the users of other, fledgling, conservative social media platforms.
As a result of these developments, much of Trump’s base is more interested in watching Fox News, listening to talk radio, and viewing their favorite right-wing politicians on YouTube than in participating on Truth Social.
In this case, only 15%-20% of Trump’s base, relatively few people outside of the base and only a few million overseas consumers become monthly active users. Consequently, the company’s first-year revenue comes in around $150 million, leading to a loss of $400 million.
Also included in this scenario is the possibility that, by this spring or summer, Truth Social is forced to close down or rendered ineffective/unusable by the government and/or by Big Tech.
The Bottom Line on DWAC Stock
In a Jan. 16 article, The Asian Investor, a Seeking Alpha columnist, estimated that the market value of DWAC stock was $2 billion, based on a share price of about $70. As of today’s close, shares were changing hands for $84.45, or 20% above $70.
As a result, assuming The Asian Investor’s estimate was correct, the shares are likely worth around $2.4 billion at this point.
In my base-case scenario, assuming the shares are valued at five times revenue, Truth Social would be worth $4.5 billion at the end of the platform’s first year. That’s a roughly 88% premium to the presumed current market value. In my better-than-expected scenario, Truth Social would be worth $24 billion, or 10 times the presumed current value of DWAC stock. Finally, in my worse-than-expected scenario, the shares would be worth $0-$22 each.
As I’ve said previously, DWAC stock is a risky name, but it could make long-term investors a significant amount of money. For those who do not yet own the shares, given their recent gains, I would consider buying a small number of them now and waiting for a pullback to purchase more.
And, of course, risk-averse investors should not touch DWAC stock.
On the date of publication, Larry Ramer held a long position in DWAC stock.
Larry Ramer has conducted research and written articles on U.S. stocks for 13 years. He has been employed by The Fly and Israel’s largest business newspaper, Globes. Larry began writing columns for InvestorPlace in 2015. Among his highly successful, contrarian picks have been GE, solar stocks, and Snap. You can reach him on StockTwits at @larryramer.