The Truth Is Out There (My Visit to Mar-a-Lago)

By Jim Woods

“Jim, how would you like to come to Mar-a-Lago and meet President Trump?”

That’s what a wired-in colleague of mine asked me recently, and knowing this man as I do, he was not asking in jest. Now, I must say that my initial reaction to the possibility of meeting Mr. Trump was a mixture of excitement, anticipation and ambivalence.

Excitement at meeting one of the most influential humans living today, because love him or loathe him, his impact cannot be denied. Anticipation at the prospect of hearing directly from the horse’s mouth the answer to a few hard questions already brewing in my mind. Ambivalence, because as a thinking entity, I have mixed opinions on the Trump presidency, the way it ended, the events of January 6th and other matters of critical import.

Probing a little further into my colleague’s inquiry, I was told that the proposed meeting at Mar-a-Lago was at the invitation of executives from Trump Media & Technology Group Corp. (NASDAQ: DJT). Trump Media is the parent company of online platform Truth Social, and the executive team wanted an opportunity to tell me about their plans to grow the business and to make DJT a leading company that delivers value for shareholders.

Of course, I said yes to the invitation (who wouldn’t?), and about a fortnight after that initial colleague call, I was on a plane headed to Palm Beach, Florida.

In preparation for this meeting with Trump Media, I did fair amount of research on the current state and future prospects for DJT. I mean, I had heard about DJT shares as we all did, but what we heard from the mainstream press and the financial press wasn’t flattering. The claim was that it was just another “meme” stock that had been financially engineered via a “SPAC” (special purpose acquisition company) to bring the investing public to Truth Social and to essentially enrich the former president, who owns a reported 115 million shares worth about $5.6 billion.

After conducting my own objective due diligence on DJT, there were a lot of open questions on the table. For example, what is the company’s plan to generate revenue and to become profitable? What is the vision for the company and its expanded operations going forward? What is the unique value proposition for Truth Social users? When should investors see progress on these fronts?

Unfortunately, asking Mr. Trump about these issues wasn’t possible. As you might have heard, he was immersed in a little legal proceeding in New York that took place at the time of the Trump Media presentation I attended. Fortunately, I did get to speak with former Congressman Devin Nunes, who, in addition to being one of the best representatives we’ve had (especially from my home state of California), is now the CEO of Trump Media & Technology Group.

Over the years, I had seen Nunes operate in Congress, and I liked his work as he was frequently on the side of free markets and protecting America’s interests abroad. But now the question was, would I like what he had to say about his new private sector venture?


Your editor discussing Truth Social and the future of DJT with CEO Devin Nunes.

“I always tell people, Trump didn’t need a new company and I didn’t need a new job. But out of necessity, we had to create a home for people that were canceled.”

That was what Nunes told me, during our interview, was the real impetus behind the creation of Truth Social, as he and Mr. Trump see the company as the social media alternative to the uber-woke behemoths in the space. These behemoths have proven themselves to be less-than-candid when it comes to canceling, demonetizing, shadow banning and otherwise throttling dissenting voices in the online square.

Now, I am all about any company’s right to conduct business the way it wants, i.e., I think that if social media entities want to be woke, liberal and anti-Trump, they have a right to do so. We, as consumers, have the right not to patronize them if we don’t like it. And I don’t consider the woke actions of these companies “censorship,” as censorship in the technical sense can only be conducted via government.

I do, however, know that the only solution to bad ideas is good ideas, and the only solution to a social media platform you don’t like is a social media platform you do like.

Creating that social media platform is what the originators of Truth Social see as not only a critical alternative to the current offerings out there, but also as a vehicle to create shareholder value.

You can watch my entire interview with Devin Nunes here at our YouTube Channel, which I highly recommend, because I think you’ll definitely gain a new sense of appreciation for the company’s mission, as well as its ambitious plans going forward.

Here, Nunes told me that he sees Truth Social as a “beachhead against Big Tech, and from there we are going to grow everything else.”

That “everything else” includes plans to continue growing Truth Social’s user base, continue capturing revenue from advertisers who see the value in a targeted and devoted audience, and perhaps most importantly, build out a social media infrastructure that includes an online streaming network similar to companies such as Pluto TV and even Netflix.

Trump Media also has its sights set on building an e-commerce platform complete with payment processing services similar to those offered by PayPal and Venmo. Not content to stop at those aspirations, Trump Media also has plans to offer web services (think cloud computing) such as those akin to what Amazon offers through its AWS segment.

Ambitious, you say? Yes, I agree. A vision that will take time, money and good fortune? Yes, I also agree. Impossible to implement? No, on that I do not agree.

I say that because time and again, people have underestimated the appeal of all things Donald Trump. I find this underestimation curious because, even if you are decidedly not a Trump fan, you have to admit that what he has done has been remarkable.

Indeed, Mr. Trump continues to defy all convention, leading the race for president in the latest 538 average of opinion polls, by an albeit slim margin of 41.0% to 39.8% over President Biden. Still, as of this writing, and despite impeachments, multiple legal issues pending and now 34 felony convictions, Mr. Trump continues to retain his amazing appeal with the American public.

So, will that amazing appeal, along with the execution of an ambitious business plan by Devin Nunes and the Trump Media team translate into greater value for DJT shareholders? Well, that truth is out there, but it’s still too early to say with any modicum of confidence.

That said, I do think the market for an alternative social media services company, one that is positioned in opposition to its woke counterparts, has potential to flourish. And if it flourishes, i.e., if it begins to make a profit (the only metric of flourishing I consider valid), then that will drive the share price higher. When that happens, it would go a very long way to persuading an investor like me to establish an equity stake in DJT, and to recommend such a stake to my newsletter advisory subscribers.

That’s the truth here, and as I suspect you’ve learned if you’ve read The Deep Woods for any length of time, truth is the only thing from me you’ll ever get.

ETF Talk: A Fallen Angel ETF Appears Ready for Redemption

With the current state of affairs, it is especially hard for anyone, even me, to predict the future.

Conflicts like the clashes between Israel and Hamas in Gaza and the war taking place between Russia and Ukraine affect countries throughout the globe beyond the territories of turmoil and United States. Because of this, investors are searching for investment opportunities outside of the norm.

As mentioned in my previous ETF talks, one of these investment strategies involves trading “fallen angel bonds.” This week’s exchange-traded fund (ETF) features iShares Fallen Angels USD Bond ETF (NASDAQ: FALN). Allow me to describe its purpose.

The two types of bonds to focus on here are investment-grade and high-yield. A fallen angel is an investment-grade bond whose value drops to high-yield status because of a credit downgrade. High-yield bonds pay heightened interest rates, but are riskier to hold, as well as have a higher chance of default.

Since a bond’s credit rating is permeable, it can change based on the economic status of the issuer. When the credit rating of a previously investment-grade bond deteriorates to high-yield status, we call it a fallen angel bond.

Now, you may wonder, why invest in them?

Fallen angel bonds bring about several benefits. One of them is diversification. In a recent study from Bloomberg, in the long-term, fallen angels outperform the broad investment-grade (IG) and high-yield (HY) market. Obviously, past performance is not a guarantee of future performance, but this study can shed some light on how the fallen angel bonds have held up.

The iShares Fallen Angels USD Bond ETF (NASDAQ: FALN) allows for exposure to a subset of high-yield bonds that were previously recognized as investment-grade. This ETF can be used by investors to try to capture the potential opportunity for profits that can become possible when a bond is downgraded from investment grade.

Some of the top holdings in FALN’s portfolio are Vodafone Group PLC (NASDAQ: VOD), Western Digital Corporation (NASDAQ: WDC), Newell Brands Inc. (NASDAQ: NWL) and Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE: JWN).


Chart courtesy of www.stockcharts.com.

As of June 11, FALN has climbed 2.3% year to date and has a 1-year return of 11.4%. The fund further has amassed $1.7 billion in assets under management and has an expense ratio of 0.25%.

Overall, the FALN ETF may be a good choice for investors looking for exposure to the fallen angel bond sector, but it is wise to consider the risks and potential returns before making any investment decisions.

As always, I am happy to answer any of your questions about ETFs, so do not hesitate to email me. You may see your question answered in a future ETF Talk.

In case you missed it…

I’m the New Mr. Wonderful

Want to take a guess at what one of my favorite TV shows is? If you thought of CNBC’s “Shark Tank,” then I’d say you know me pretty well (and if you also guessed “Miami Vice” or “Jeopardy,” then you get points, too). By far the best “character” on “Shark Tank” is Kevin O’Leary, also known as “Mr. Wonderful.”

Mr. Wonderful is a favorite because he is an unapologetic capitalist who is all about making money. Unlike some of the more “socially conscious” shark investors on the show, Mr. Wonderful cares only about answering one question: How much of a return on his investment is he going to get? And guess what, that is the only concern that should be taken into account when one is investing one’s money.

You see, for Mr. Wonderful and for me, “profit” isn’t a dirty word, but rather the most moral undertaking humans can engage in. The reason why is because one can only make a profit in a business if one is selling a good or service that makes its customers better off. So, if you have a product that helps meet a need, and that can be sold for more money than it takes to make, then you have engaged in the most moral activity one can ever engage in — the act of making money.

Now, when I watch “Shark Tank,” I often put myself in the judges’ seat to see if I think the pitches I hear from the entrepreneurs seeking investment capital would be worthy of an investment. Sometimes I agree with the sharks (I almost always agree with Kevin O’Leary) and sometimes I don’t. But try as I may to voice my thoughts through the TV, that device is a one-way portal.

Yet very soon, I will be living out my very own “Shark Tank” fantasy, as I have been tapped to be a judge at this year’s FreedomFest “Pitch Tank.”

As you may already know, FreedomFest is coming up fast. This year’s ultimate summit for liberty will be held in Las Vegas at the Caesar’s Forum from July 10-13. In addition to the incredible lineup of marquee names such as President Javier Milei of Argentina, best-selling author and one of my favorite public intellectuals, Steven Pinker and rapper/actor extraordinaire Ice-T, the conference also features the Pitch Tank.


Your editor performing at last year’s FreedomFest Jam Session

At FreedomFest, we celebrate the virtue of making money through entrepreneurship, as it is the profit motive that drives individuals to create the solutions of tomorrow for the problems of today. Pitch Tank competitors will compete for cash prizes and for professional services, and they’ll also be given guidance to help refine their concept.

Much like its TV show counterpart, contestants will pitch their idea to a panel of judges in the initial rounds. The top three finalists will pitch again in the final round. It is here that I am honored to say that I will be one of those judges, and so now, you can call me the “New Mr. Wonderful.”

If you’re an entrepreneur and you’re thinking about trying out your ideas to a tough-but-fair panel of experts, then the FreedomFest Pitch Tank is for you.

And as a fan of The Deep Woods, not only can you come and watch me judge the pitches, you also can come see me speak about money and ideas alongside my fellow Eagle Financial Publications colleagues George Gilder and Mark Skousen. In fact, George, Mark and I will be on a panel together discussing our favorite investments for “The New Roaring Twenties,” and that is a panel not to be missed.

Here is a link to all of my scheduled activities at FreedomFest 2024. In addition to these scheduled events, I will also be at many of the social events held by the conference, including my favorite, the FreedomFest Jam Session.

So, if you want to have a great time basking in the Vegas liberty sunshine, then FreedomFest is a must-attend event. And for The Deep Woods readers, you can get a very special discounted rate if you sign up NOW by going to www.freedomfest.com, or emailing Hayley at hayley@freedomfest.com, or calling her at 1-855-850-3733, ext. 201.

Use code EAGLE50 to get $50 off the registration. The discount ends on July 1, and the price of a ticket goes up on that date, so now is the time to register.

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No Evil Thoughts

“There are no evil thoughts except one; the refusal to think.”

–Ayn Rand, “Atlas Shrugged”

This past weekend, I finished listening to the unabridged audiobook version of the greatest novel ever, Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.” This was my second listening of the complete audio version, but I originally read the novel as a freshman in college in 1984, and I’ve read it multiple times since. And while I may be guilty of cliché abuse here, I must say that the novel literally changed my life.

I say that, because Rand’s view of “man the hero” and her conception of “the ideal man” is something that resonates deeply with me. It’s also something I had never before seen presented and have seen only partially in literature ever since. That vision, that ideal, is what I try to achieve with every action I take, so when I say it literally changed my life, I mean it.

If you have yet to read this novel, or if you haven’t read it in a long time (or even better, if you haven’t listened to the audio version narrated by the great Scott Brick) then I highly recommend doing so right now. Start today. When you finish the nearly 63-hour adventure, I will gladly accept all forms of thanks — because trading value for value is how ideal men interact with the world.

Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote that you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my newsletters, seminars or anything else. Click here to ask Jim.

In the name of the best within us,

Jim Woods

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