UPDATED at 2:25 PM: AMC shares rebounded Friday, along with those of Cinemark, as cautious optimism grew for a return to some form of U.S. theatrical moviegoing in the second half of 2020.
AMC shares finished the week at $3.20, up 31% to reach their highest level in two weeks after the company announced a $500 million debt issue. Cinemark, which operates the No. 3 exhibition circuit in the U.S., saw its shares rise 16% Friday to $13.48.
Eric Handler, a veteran exhibition analyst with MKM Partners, called the debt issue a “near-term life line” for AMC in a note to clients, but he reiterated his “sell” rating on the company, with a 12-month price target of $1. “Assuming the [debt] deal is completed, the threat of near-term bankruptcy gets eliminated,” he wrote. “However, longer-term it does not solve the issue about adding more debt on top of an already levered balance sheet.”
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PREVIOUSLY: AMC Entertainment shares roared to life in after-hours trading, rising as much as 37% after the company announced a $500 million debt sale and the White House announced sweeping measures to reopen U.S. businesses.
The No. 1 theater circuit has fallen on extremely tough times, shutting doors to its theaters weeks ago as the COVID-19 crisis has ripped across the world. President Donald Trump on Thursday evening confirmed that movie theaters would be part of the initial phase of his proposal to reopen major parts of the economy.
Beaten-down shares in AMC, which closed the regular trading day at $2.44, shot up to $3.35 after hours.
CEO Adam Aron has expressed hope that theaters in the U.S. might reopen by the end of June, salvaging some of the all-important summer blockbuster season and setting up a packed second half of the year. The theater circuit has been the subject of bankruptcy rumors in recent months. A Chapter 11 filing would enable the chain to keep operating (a good thing for Hollywood, as Deadline has reported, given it accounts for roughly a quarter of many tentpole’s global box office revenue). China’s Dailan Wanda Group, a major AMC investor, dismissed the bankruptcy talk as “speculation” in a statement Wednesday.
Exactly what the theatrical landscape looks like as the U.S. emerges from virus lockdown is anyone’s guess. Trump didn’t offer many specifics about social distancing procols. Cinemark, the No. 3 exhibitor, earlier this week touted its large base of recliner seats, which are spread farther apart. It also said it could implement limits on the number of tickets sold in any of its venues.
AMC’s debt offer offer consists of first lien notes due in 2025. The company said it plans to use the proceeds “for general corporate purposes, including further increasing AMC’s liquidity.”
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