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AMC Theatres keeps facing pandemic-related headwinds, but CEO Adam Aron teased that a rebound was right around the corner, saying Thursday that “we finally can now say that we are looking at an increasingly favorable environment for moviegoing and for AMC as a company over the coming few months.”
AMC posted a $567 million net loss in the quarter on $148 million in revenue. That was nonetheless an improvement from the same quarter a year ago, as lockdowns began to roll across the world, causing the theatrical giant to post a loss of more than $2 billion. Aron said that 7 million customers watched movies at an AMC theater in the first quarter, with 99 percent of locations now open (albeit at limited capacity).
Aron, speaking on the company’s quarterly earnings call, said that “Vaccination is our way out of all of this,” praising the Trump administration for Operation Warp Speed, and the Biden administration for the vaccine rollout.
The theatrical exhibition giant has managed to survive the pandemic through a combination of new debt and stock offerings (helped along by some rogue traders on platforms like Reddit), and now has $813 million on hand, enough cash to make it through the rest of the year. Aron tipped his cap to the online investors, touting the company’s “vocal, enthusiastic and avid new shareholder base comprised mostly of some 3 million individual stockholders.”
In fact, on the call Aron went even further, saying, “these individual investors likely own a majority of our shares, they own AMC. We work for them. I work for them. By definition, their interests and passions are important to AMC, their ambitions and passions are important to me.”
Aron followed that up by announcing that the company would donate $50,000, and he would match that amount, to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, a charity that Reddit’s “WallStreetBets” community has made a focus in recent weeks, with its members raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the relatively obscure charity.
Along the way, its controlling shareholder Wanda gave up its majority stake, and the company proposed — but ultimately pulled back on — a plan to authorize the issuing of 500 million new shares. Instead, it launched an at-the-market offering of 43 million shares, and says it has raised $172 million in that offering as of May 6.
“It is simply and utterly astonishing what AMC has accomplished since March of 2020. It should take your breath away, it certainly did mine,” Aron said.
Still, with a thin theatrical release schedule until Memorial Day, the company faces tough comparisons to pre-pandemic times. Even as movie theaters are allowed to reopen at higher and higher capacities, the relative lack of new movies is keeping many potential customers elsewhere.
Still, with a number of major movies on the horizon, Aron remained optimistic on the call, even as the company’s theatrical partners play around with release windows.
“Thank you Universal for F9, thank you Disney for Black Widow. Thank you Warners for the movies you are bringing to our theaters,” he said.
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