Exhibition, a sector under heavy pressure on Wall Street in recent months, saw stocks rise across the board during today’s abbreviated trading session, reflecting investor bargain-hunting and optimism about holiday box office.
AMC shares led all gainers, increasing nearly 5% to finish at $13.65. That’s still far below where they began the year ($33.80), but the stock has steadily improved since hitting a 52-week low of $10.80 on Nov. 13.
Regal Cinemas shares also added almost 5% to close at $17.37. As with AMC’s stock, Regal’s is under water for the year, but has shaped up since bottoming out Aug. 23 at $13.90.
Trading volume was light, not just for exhibition stocks but all shares during a post-holiday session that ended at 10AM PT. Normal trading hours resume Monday.
Overall year-to-date grosses entered the extended Thanksgiving period trailing 2016 levels by about 4%. Momentum is improving, though, as estimates have been revised upward for extended weekend hauls for films like Disney’s latest Pixar release, Coco, and Lionsgate family film Wonder. Tracking is also huge for mid-December’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, suggesting a U.S. opening that could exceed $200 million, putting Hollywood in an upbeat mood heading into this important year-end period.
Exhibition execs announcing quarterly results to Wall Street in recent weeks blamed softness in the third quarter on weaker movies, but expressed bullish sentiment about the holiday slate.
“The weakness of the summer box office is not indicative of a long-term trend,” maintained Adam Aron, CEO of leading circuit AMC, “especially immediately after two-and-a-half years of record box office performance and just before what we expect will be strong and robust consumer demand through year end.”