But He's Still Not as Wealthy As He Says

By Shawn Tully
May 23, 2016

Donald Trump’s bank account grew in the past year. But it’s still likely not as big as the presumptive GOP nominee claims.

Last week, Trump filed his latest Personal Financial Disclosure (PFD) with the Federal Election Commission—trumpeting fabulous feats of money-making. The PDF is notable because it shows a spectacular 50% jump in revenues across a major swath of the real estate developer’s empire.

The release from last week asserts Trump’s wealth has increased in the past 10 months, but doesn’t say how much. Last July, Trump’s campaign famously claimed that his net worth was “in excess of TEN BILLION DOLLARS.” Nearly a year later, Trump’s campaign said the tycoon’s wealth has grown, but the only figure given for Trump’s net worth is “in excess of $10 billion.” There is no clarification about how much the current “excess” over the eleven-digit round number exceeds the old “excess.”

In a nod to modesty, Trump no longer emblazons the “$10 billion dollars” in caps. Maybe it’s part of a makeover to appear presidential.

The PFD leaves gaps that make it impossible to get a precise independent estimate of how much Trump’s wealth has grown, or what it is now. Still, just like before, we gave it a try. And when combined with research from publicly available documents, Fortune was able to use the latest disclosure to make a rough estimate.

(For this analysis, we’re listing Trump’s revenues at the maximum of the wide ranges he presents in the PFD, applying extremely generous margins and multiples of earnings, a low tax rate, and in general, giving the Donald just about every optimistic assumption available.)

The conclusion: Rather than damaging his brand, Trump’s notoriety appears to be boosting his business, and making him even wealthier. By our best calculations, Trump’s net worth has indeed grown over the 10 months since the last filing. Trump has shrewdly, and enormously, capitalized from the explosion in New York real estate values, and his golf course ventures appear to be thriving.

Nonetheless, Trump’s revenues are still not big enough, by a long shot, to backup the claim that his net worth is anywhere near that “in excess of $10 billion,” even using bluebird assumptions.

Read more Fortune coverage of Trump’s business career:
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Donald Trump on Atlantic City, China, and Sanders
Here’s What You Need to Know About Trump’s Business Failures (Video)
Why Donald Trump Loves Low Interest Rates, But Won’t Reappoint Janet Yellen
Why Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders Are More Similar Than You Think

The biggest difference in this year’s filing is revenue. The campaign’s release says sales for Trump’s businesses rose to $557 million. That’s about $190 million more than the sales Trump reported is his filing 10 months ago, for a again of 50%.

But Trump actually did better than that. This years’ filing covered a shorter period of 16 1/2 months since the start of 2015, versus an 18 1/2 months in the filing a year ago. Annualized, Trump’s revenue in 2015 and early 2016 appears to have risen just over 70% to $400 million.

The other big difference in Trump’s financial disclosure this year from last is debt. Trump has more of it. By combining data from his new filing and a balance sheet he released last July, it appears that Trump holds an additional $300 million in loans, on golf courses and condo buildings, that add another $14 million or so in interest expense, for a total of $47 million.

Now we got the three major components of Trump’s worth. Let’s put them together.

The sales that Trump discloses on his financial disclosures, which he sometimes calls revenue and other times calls income, does not include much of the revenue he gets from his commercial and condo properties, including his flagship Trump Tower in Manhattan, which has mostly been turned into condominiums but has some retail and commercial space; the adjacent 8-story Niketown building, on lease to the footwear purveyor; 40 Wall Street, which at 72-stories is one of the largest office buildings in Manhattan’s financial district; and two trophy towers he owns in partnership with Vornado Realty Trust, one of America’s largest REITs.

All told, Trump’s rents come to an additional $235 million in revenue.

But Trump’s reported revenue also leaves out royalty payments, ranging from his share of book sales—small—to one of the bigger chunks of Trump’s revenue, fees for lending his name and brand to hotels and golf courses worldwide. Once again, Trump presents his revenue from royalties in a broad range. We’ll go with the maximum, which is $63 million, and far higher than the one in the last report. It appears to shows that potential partners are more attracted than ever by the Trump brand. Once again, so much for incendiary comments killing the Trump marketing mystique.

So those are three major components of Trump’s business: $235 million in rents, $63 million in royalties, and $400 million in all other income—chiefly golf course revenues and condo sales—for a total of $698 million. We’ll round up to $700 million.

How much does of that actually translates into income after expenses, like salaries and upkeep? Vornado, a top REIT, has an operating margin of 30%, one of the best in the industry, and Boston Properties, another ace, generates returns of 34%. Let’s give Trump the benefit of the doubt that he is one of the best in the business. So we’ll assume he’s right in-between, at 32%. A 32% profit margin on $700 million in revenue delivers operating profits of $224 million.

But remember Trump’s debt increased last year as well. I calculate that his borrowings now likely cost him an annual interest payment of $47 million. That leaves income of roughly $177 million. Of course, Trump would theoretically need to pay taxes on a lot of that income. Trump declines to disclose his tax rate, stating in an ABC interview on March 13 that “It’s none of your business,” and “I fight very hard to pay as little tax as possible.” So we’ll assume a relatively low rate, for a billionaire, of 15%. In that case, Trump’s after-tax income would total $150 million.

What multiple do those millions deserve? It’s a tough question: Vornado and Boston Properties trade at over 30 times what their earnings, but they’re among America’s largest owners of top class office buildings. Trump does own some similar buildings. And given where interest rates are these days, boosting the value of real estate holdings, the high price-to-earnings multiple may be justified. But Trump is also big in golf courses, where the margins, and multiples, should be lower. So we’ll give the Donald a generous P/E of 25 on his after-tax income. That puts the value of his enterprises as $3.75 billion.

The PDF also discloses Trump’s investments. The range is typically broad: somewhere between $60 million and $171 million. Surprisingly, he’s a risk-averse investor who parks two-thirds of his portfolio in cash and bonds and the balance in individual big cap stocks—like Apple, JP Morgan Chase, and Visa—and mutual funds. We’ll add the top figure of $171 million to his net worth, for a grand total of nearly $3.92 billion, which is about $200 million more than I figured Trump was worth based on his last disclosure.

Once again, we’re giving Trump every advantage—including top range on all his revenue estimates and a princely p/e. If we take the low ranges, he’s net worth would be considerable less, though still significant, more like $3 billion. The rub is that the revenues disclosed in the PDF can’t get us to a numbers to approaching “in excess of $10 billion.” Well short is more like it. The number may be illusory, but the wonder is that despite the barrage of bad-mouthing that should be sinking his brand, Trump’s wealth along with poll numbers that mystify the experts, just keeps swelling.

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