AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc.’s stock price tripled in premarket trading and was on course to erase its pandemic-induced slump, aided by optimism around recent fundraising. The cinema operator is among a number of heavily shorted stocks rallying this week.
The stock was up 218% to near $16 a share as of 8:43 a.m. and closed at 19.90. An opening price at that level would be the highest intraday since June 2019. AMC said Monday that $917 million in new funds would get it through the next six months as the industry battles the effects of Covid-19, which has shuttered venues around the world.
Amateur investors have gathered, most notably on the Reddit forum r/wallstreetbets, to pinpoint stocks they can buy en masse with the hope of scoring fast profits. They frequently target stocks that are popular shorts, as driving their stock prices up can pressure short-sellers into buying shares back to cover their positions, which sends prices even higher.
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Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Amine Bensaid said AMC is one of the names that have been floated around in social media for such moves — heavily shorted names with relatively smaller market caps while their fundamentals haven’t changed.
Short interest as a percentage of the free float had fallen to 18% as of Jan. 25, according to data from IHS Markit, down from more than 40% in December. In London, shares of Cineworld Group Plc, another favorite among short sellers, jumped as much as 21%. The U.K. firm competes with AMC’s Odeon unit in Britain.
AMC’s bonds also continued their tear along with the shares, reaching record highs and leading the U.S. high-yield market on Wednesday. The notes due 2026 reached roughly 63 cents on the dollar, up from a low of 5 cents set in November, according to Trace bond trading data.
The moves also come as high-profile short-seller target GameStop Corp. continues to rise.
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AMC is the largest movie exhibition company in the United States, the largest in Europe and the Middle East, and the largest throughout the world with approximately 1,000 theatres and 10,700 screens across the globe. AMC has propelled innovation in the exhibition industry by deploying its Signature power-recliner seats; delivering enhanced food and beverage choices; generating greater guest engagement through its loyalty and subscription programs, web site and mobile apps; offering premium large format experiences, and playing a wide variety of content including the latest Hollywood releases and independent programming.