Shares of AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. seesawed to a loss in volatile trading Thursday, when the movie-theater operator announced plans to sell 11.55 million fresh shares in the morning, said it had sold them about six hours later, then asked investors for the right to issue more after the bell.
settled to close down 17.9% at $51.34, after swinging from an intraday loss of a much as 39.8% to a gain of as much as 10.0% in afternoon trading. Shares then fell about 5% in after-hours trading, when AMC announced its proposal for shareholders to approve more stock sales.
The stock was halted three times for volatility Thursday, all within the first half-hour after the open. The seesaw session comes after the stock had rocketed 95.2% on Wednesday, and 417.8% over the previous seven sessions, amid renewed interest in meme stocks.
“We believe the recent volatility and our current market prices reflect market and trading dynamics unrelated to our underlying business, or macro or industry fundamentals, and we do not know how long these dynamics will last.”
— AMC statement in 8-K filing with SEC
AMC said in a statement released at 12:58 p.m. Eastern on Thursday that it completed the “at-the-market” (ATM) program that was disclosed at 7:04 a.m. in an 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The stock was down about 23% just before AMC announced the completion of the stock sale program.
The company said it raised about $587.4 million from the stock sales, which were made an at average price of $50.85. While that price was 1.0% below the closing price, it was 25.9% above the intraday low of $37.66. The volume-weighted average price was $53.83, according to FactSet.
“Bringing in an additional $587.4 million of new equity, on top of the $658.5 million already raised this quarter, results in a total equity raise in the second quarter of $1.246 billion, substantially strengthening and improving AMC’s balance sheet, providing valuable flexibility to respond to potential challenges and capitalize on attractive opportunities in the future,” Chief Executive Adam Aron said.
After the day’s wild trading session ended, AMC revealed in a news release and filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it will ask shareholders for the authority to issue up to 25 million shares. AMC previously planned to ask shareholders for approval to issue up to 500 million fresh shares, roughly as many as are currently in circulation, but canceled those plans after an uproar from investors. Instead, the theater chain will seek approval for a smaller number, and would not be able to sell any shares included in the approval until 2022.
“To successfully navigate the road ahead, we seek to assemble all of the financial tools that might help us,” Aron said in a statement. “An important tool for any company is having shares available to issue if, and only if, the right value creation opportunity arises.”
AMC had entered into the ATM agreement with sales agents B. Riley Securities Inc. and Citigroup Global markets Inc. The company said it would pay the sales agents a commission of up to 2.5% of the sales price of the stock, which would equate to about $14.7 million.
The number of shares sold represented about 2.6% of the shares outstanding as of May 2.
The company said it plans to use the proceeds from the share sales for general corporate purposes, which could include repayment of debt, acquisition of theater assets or capital expenditures.
AMC acknowledged in its 8-K filing that recent “extreme fluctuations” in its stock have been accompanied by reports of “strong and atypical retail investor interest, including on social media and online forums.” As a result, AMC’s stock sale plan comes with a warning for retail investors:
“We believe the recent volatility and our current market prices reflect market and trading dynamics unrelated to our underlying business, or macro or industry fundamentals, and we do not know how long these dynamics will last,” the company said in a statement. “Under the circumstances, we caution you against investing in our Class A common stock, unless you are prepared to incur the risk of losing all or a substantial portion of your investment.”
MarketWatch staff writer Jeremy C. Owens contributed to this article.