AMC Theatres stock sunk nearly 42 percent today, down $7.55 per share. Sounds disastrous, but AMC did this to themselves — and they did it on purpose.
On Monday, AMC Entertainment’s AMC Preferred Equity units began trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol APE. The acronym doubles as a nod to an inside joke among the Reddit users who bought up AMC stock during the troubled times of the early pandemic, possibly saving the theater chain from going under.
On Friday, as a thank you/means of raising funds, AMC issued one preferred equity stock unit for each of its 560.82 million outstanding shares of common stock. So if a person previously owned two AMC shares, they now also own two APE units. The move gave AMC an alternative to the less-palatable option of issuing more shares of its common stock; the company will be able to sell some of the new units to raise funds.
Those APE shares, which carry the same voting rights as AMC’s common stock, began trading at $6.95 per share this morning. They closed at $6 even.
“This is a major step forward for AMC. In my view, probably the biggest favorable development for our company in all of the calendar year ’22, both looking back and looking ahead,” AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron said two weeks ago when the company revealed its quarterly earnings — and its APE plan. “We believe this is truly great news for AMC and not-such-good news for those prophets of doom who may be rooting against us.”
Aron warned investors that the price of the AMC common shares will likely drop in response to launch of APE shares; that’s exactly what happened.
The $1.55 difference in AMC’s per-share loss vs. the close of APE shares can probably be attributed to market fears surrounding the exhibition industry as a whole. On Friday — the same day the APE shares were issued — the Wall Street Journal reported that Cineworld, the owner of Regal Cinemas, said it is considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. (Regal confirmed the report today.) AMC is the largest movie-theater chain in the America; Regal is number two.
So the two are in this together, sort of. “Yesterday Cineworld, which is the world’s second-largest movie theater circuit, issued a public statement that it anticipates low levels of admissions until November 2022, which are expected to negatively impact its liquidity position in the near-term,” Aron said Thursday in a statement. “At AMC, as we have publicly disclosed previously, the film slate in the third quarter of 2022 is expected to be relatively weak. However, we continue to be quite optimistic about the increasing demand for our portfolio of movie theatres in the fourth quarter of 2022 and calendar year 2023.”
“As for AMC’s liquidity, AMC ended the second quarter of 2022 with more than $1 billion of liquidity, thanks to significant amounts of cash raised in calendar years 2020 and 2021,” he added. “Our new AMC Preferred Equity security… should also make us a much stronger company. Accordingly, we remain confident about AMC’s future.”
Ninety percent of AMC shares are owned by retail investors, which made it ripe for the emerging “meme stock” scene. That scene, fueled by Reddit’s r/WallStreetBets community, most famously saved GameStop during its own time of need. Those good guys are the “apes” — they also refer to themselves as “degenerates.” Aron’s talk of “prophets of doom” is a shot against institutional Wall Street investors who bet against AMC’s (and GameStop’s) success, often through the process of short-selling.