UPDATED with more info: Trading in AMC Entertainment was halted twice by NYSE regulators Wednesday with the stock surging past $60 (nearly double where shares closed Tuesday) as CEO Adam Aron embraced retail traders on Reddit and social media platforms and they hugged him right back.
The stock exchange halted trading at 12.26 p.m. ET and again at 12:32 p.m. ET for an “LULD” pause when AMC shares surpassed a Limit Up-Limit Down rule. They’re currently changing hands at about $53, up 67%, but trading is volatile and that changes by the second.
PREVIOUSLY, 8:01 AM: AMC Entertainment shares touched an all-time high Wednesday, hitting $41.95, well above a previous 52-week record of $36 from early this year, as retail investor continued to pile in.
The stock’s been on a tear for weeks in a lovefest with individual traders that began in January. It started as a addendum to the frenzy surrounding GameStop but has stepped up and out on its own, fanned by the company and its CEO Adam Aron. AMC this morning announced an unusual program called Investor Connect to communicate directly with this mass of individual investors in the U.S. that now own more than 80% of its stock.
“Many of our investors have demonstrated support and confidence in AMC. We intend to communicate often with these investors, and from time to time provide them with special benefits at our theatres. We start with a free large popcorn on us, when they attend their first movie at an AMC theatre this summer,” Aron said. “After all, these people are the owners of AMC, and I work for them.”
The exhibitor called AMC Investor Connect “an innovative, proactive communication initiative,” which it is. It will put AMC in direct communication “with its extraordinary base of enthusiastic and passionate individual shareholders to keep them up to date about important company information and to provide them with special offers.”
Over the last several months, and as former majority shareholder Wanda Group exited the company, AMC has seen its retail shareholder base grow dramatically. “With this sizable number of retail shareholders, AMC is taking a groundbreaking new approach to investor relations and investor communications,” the company said.
Aron added, “During my five-plus-year tenure as CEO at AMC, I’ve taken great pride in the relationships I have forged with AMC’s owners. With AMC Investor Connect, that effort in relationship building will continue apace even if our shareholders now number in the millions.”
Beginning today, AMC said, shareholders can sign up to receive special offers and investor updates by registering on the company’s investor relations website. Investors who sign up will be awarded with an initial free large popcorn usable this summer when attending a movie at an AMC theatre in the U.S. The offer will be made available in their AMC Stubs rewards account.
AMC shares have bounced from a 52-week low of under $2 to a high of over $36 as retail investors on social media chat rooms urged each other to buy and hold the stock at levels well beyond price targets set by Wall Street analysts based on the company’s fundamental business and prospects.
The nation’s biggest exhibitor struggled through the pandemic with theaters closed and cash running low. But after rounds of cash raising, the sector is looking up, coming of a solid box office this weekend and retail investors have been key in supporting the company’s stock price in recent months..
On Tuesday, AMC said it raised $230 million in a stock sale and signaled a new era, that it will use the cash to “go on the offensive” and pursue expansion opportunities including through talks with landlords of theaters run by ArcLight and Pacific Theaters.