AMC Entertainment has 4.1 million individual shareholders, the company disclosed Wednesday, as it heads towards an annual meeting in late July where all of them will be eligible to show up and vote on whatever’s on the agenda after spending months pumping up the stock on investing chat rooms.
“The number of investors who want to own a part of AMC continues to increase,” CEO Adam Aron said in a statement. He said more than 80% of AMC shares are held by a broad base of retail investors — highly unusual for big public companies — with an average holding of around 120 shares.
“Some hold more and some hold less, however, each and every shareholder is important to AMC. Each shareholder has a critical role to play in AMC’s future by having their voice heard by voting at our upcoming Shareholder Meeting. By voting in favor of the proposals, together we can help position AMC, in its 101st year of business, for continued success over the next century,” he said.
AMC shares have soared from a 52-week low of under $2 to a high near $73 as retail investors on chatrooms from StockTwits to Reddit’s WallStreetBets showered love on the company, hate on institutions perceived as shorting the stock and adoration on Aron, who has been leaning in to the phenomenon in a big way.
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The shares had a down day Wednesday, closing off about 10.4% at $49.34. Wall Street analysts call the stock price on steroids wholly divorced from the company’s still-recovering, albeit much improved, financials. SEC chairman Gary Gensler said today that he has asked the agency’s staff to examine a variety of stock trading issues and rules, which are being closely scrutinized amid wild swings in so-called meme stocks like AMC, GameStop and a handful of others.
The new chief of the stock market watchdog agency didn’t name names but seemed to call out so-called market makers like Citadel Securities LLC and Virtu Financial that pay retail brokers a fee to execute client trade orders.
“Brokers profit when investors trade,” Gensler told the Piper Sandler Global Exchange & FinTech Conference.
AMC has worked the stock rise to raise cash by issuing shares and selling them at inflated prices. Aron said he’ll use the latest cash injection for acquisitions including of ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theaters where the chain is in discussions with landlords.
But the stock sale irritated some retail investors who weighted on social media, saying they don’t want their equity positions diluted and fretting that additional shares can help short sellers cover positions.
The biggest U.S. exhibitor will issue a revised proxy June 15 with the agenda of its annual meeting, set for July 29. It’s expected to ask for authorization to sell more shares. There is also usually a vote on CEO pay (non-binding), and on any proposals put forward by stockholders.
Last week, in a brilliant marketing move, Aron invited them all to a dedicated page on the company’s website where they could join the AMC Stubs loyalty program and get a free popcorn. He tweeted over the weekend that, as of Saturday, over 100,000 retail investors had become Stubs members.