Reddit “WallStreetBets” Traders Go Wild After AMC Theatres CEO Embraces Their Ownership: “He’s Totally Onboard”

Adam Aron bets that online enthusiasm will help keep the exhibition giant afloat until the pandemic wanes. “Just go on Twitter, just go on Reddit, just go on YouTube, read what these people write. They love AMC.”

To a casual listener of AMC Theatres’ second-quarter earnings call Thursday, AMC CEO Adam Aron’s short monologue about the 1988 Oscar-nominated drama Gorillas in the Mist may have been seen as a mere aside, another pop culture reference that the movie-loving executive likes to pepper into his earnings calls.

To the community on Reddit’s “WallStreetBets” forum and other online investment communities, it was a flashing red signal that Aron was on their team as they sought to stick it to the hedge funds (and make some money in the process).

“[Aron] is totally onboard, convince me otherwise,” wrote user Nruggia.

“This dude is so smooth with the subliminals. Gotta love it lol,” added yazooguy1.

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Indeed, Aron made no secret of the fact that AMC, and he himself, is totally on board with the online traders that have bought and memed the theatrical giant’s stock, helping to push it from $2 per share to over $20 per share in weeks.

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“These individual investors likely own a majority of our shares, they own AMC. We work for them. I work for them,” Aron said on the call of the “more than 3 million” individual investors that own AMC shares. “By definition, their interests and passions are important to AMC, their ambitions and passions are important to me.”

And with that, Aron discussed Gorillas in the Mist and announced that the company would donate $50,000 to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, and that he would personally match that donation and join the charity’s Digit Society (named after Fossey’s favorite gorilla), making it a $100,000 donation in total.

That announcement sent the Reddit community to the moon, so to speak. Reddit’s WallStreetBets community members sometimes refer to themselves as “apes” and had over the past two months raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Gorilla Fund.

“Above and beyond those cash donations, we already started discussing with the Fossey Fund other ways that AMC can be of help,” Aron added.

“I would bet that AA is in this sub somewhere, just soaking it all in, and waiting for chances to send cryptic messages. Sure, he could pay someone to do it, but you know he wants to be among his ape family,” wrote user Crysus1026.

“THIS is how you do celebrity CEO. When are we going to get this kind of investor relationship interaction out of Ryan?” added Inevitable Professor.

The “Ryan” in this case is Ryan Cohen, the largest shareholder and incoming chairman of that other meme-stock, GameStop.

The video game retailer, which saw its stock rise from around $11 per share to nearly $350 during its Reddit-fueled peak in January, has since seen its share price settle, somewhat remarkably, at above $150 per share. Cohen and the company’s board have rejiggered that company’s leadership, but otherwise have barely acknowledged the role online traders have played in the stock’s rise.

Not so with AMC’s Aron, who, based on Thursday’s call, intends to make appealing to the internet a priority for the company in the coming months.

“Just go on Twitter, just go on Reddit, just go on YouTube, read what these people write. They love AMC,” Aron said on the call, adding that “you’re going to see a lot more outreach to literally millions of investors in our company. And it’s going to be quite public.”

Aron said that will include more tweeting, and more appearances on places like YouTube, in addition to CNBC or Bloomberg.

It’s a strategic decision: Bet on the online army to keep AMC’s stock price high, enabling it to bolster its liquidity and stay afloat until the pandemic wanes. It’s one reason that CNBC commentator Jim Cramer called Aron “Houdini” in a column last month.

“He knows the capital markets are the key to staying alive, and he is using them for exactly what they are worth,“ Cramer wrote. “Oddly, if the WallStreetBets people can keep the stock higher, Adam can raise even more money, buy even more debt and the stock will, indeed, be worth more. Virtuous circle? I would certainly say so. Isn’t capitalism grand?”