AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc.’s stock fell more than 10% in extended trading on Thursday after the company announced a special dividend in the form of “Ape” preferred shares.
The dividend marks the latest move in a fight over stock issuances. AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. AMC, +2.47% has turned to the special dividend after it was unable to gain shareholder approval to let it issue more common shares, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The special dividend of one AMC Preferred Equity unit will be issued for each share of AMC Class A common stock, par value $0.01 per share, outstanding at the close of business on Aug. 15. The special dividend is expected to be paid at the close of business on Aug. 19. AMC has applied to list its AMC Preferred Equity Units on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “APE,” starting Aug. 22. The symbol is a nod to the investors who turned the company into a meme stock, who often refer to themselves as “apes” or “ape nation.”
“This new AMC Preferred Equity gives AMC a currency that can be used in the future to strengthen our balance sheet, including by paying down debt or raising fresh equity,” said AMC Chief Executive Adam Aron, in a statement. “As a result, this dramatically lessens any near-term survival risk for AMC, as we continue to work our way through this pandemic.”
AMC will be issuing an APE dividend for each of its 516,820,595 shares outstanding, according to Aron. “The issuance only to our shareholders of tradable AMC Preferred Equity units clarifies who is included in our current shareholder base,” he said in the statement. The company has faced unsubstantiated internet conspiracy theories that there are millions of synthetic AMC shares in circulation, as well as calls for a share recount, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The company, which issued an “I own AMC” NFT in January, will also be issuing an “I own APE” NFT to shareholders.
Speaking during a conference call to discuss the results, Aron said that AMC has the flexibility to issue more “Apes” in the future.
“I believe all of this makes us vastly, and I mean, vastly, stronger,” he added. The CEO, who referred to AMC’s critics as “naysayers” and “prophets of doom” during the call, said the dividend is very bad news for people “not rooting for AMC.”
AMC also reported its second-quarter results after market close, reporting a narrowing loss and revenue in line with analysts’ expectations. The movie-theater chain reported a net loss of $121.6 million, or a net loss of 24 cents a share, compared with a net loss of 344 million, or a net loss of 71 cents a share, in the same period last year.
AMC’s second-quarter sales were $1.166 billion, compared with $444.7 million in the same period last year. Analysts surveyed by FactSet were looking for sales of $1.168 billion and a net loss of 31 cents, or a net loss of 23 cents a share on an adjusted basis.
“AMC just completed a spectacularly encouraging second quarter that boosts our mood and brightens our prospects as we look ahead,” Aron said in the statement. “Our Q2 2022 results, in our minds, prove once again what we have long said, that as Hollywood releases movies with broad consumer appeal, people will flock to see them at movie theaters in huge and eye-popping numbers.”
In the second quarter, AMC had attendance of 59 million people at its theaters globally, up 168% from the 22 million attendees in the same quarter a year ago, according to Aron. “So, we would like to extend a special ‘thank you’ to Doctor Stephen Strange, Tom ‘Maverick’ Cruise, Elvis Presley, and all those hungry people-eating Jurassic dinosaurs who graced our big screens in the quarter,” he added.
Shares of the meme-stock darling, which skyrocketed to a high of $72.62 on June 2, 2021, have fallen 29.7% this year. AMC’s stock closed up 2.47% at $18.66 on Thursday, well below its 52-week high of $52.79.
Wedbush analyst Alicia Reese was looking for positive second-quarter EBITDA from AMC amid an industry rebound. Quality movies are back in theaters, drawing crowds back, she explained in a note earlier this week. “AMC is well-positioned to capture and retain higher market share than its pre-pandemic days as it improves its footprint both domestically and internationally,” she wrote. “That said, theatrical exhibitors across the industry are spending more on marketing to bring patrons back to the theaters, while also contending with macro headwinds like higher concession costs, higher utility costs and higher wages.”
AMC, which describes itself as the largest movie-theater company in the world, reported adjusted EBITDA of $106.7 million, compared to a loss of $150.8 million in the same period last year. Wedbush had forecast adjusted EBITDA of $16 million.
The company has been on a roller-coaster ride over the past two years that took the theater chain from beleaguered pandemic victim to meme-stock phenomenon. AMC used the steep rise in its share price to tap into equity and debt markets, raising $917 million in January 2021. At that time, Aron said the new financing meant any talk of imminent bankruptcy “is completely off the table.”
Earlier this year AMC stunned Wall Street when it made a $27. 9 million investment in Hycroft Mining Holding Corp. HYMC, +0.97%, a gold and silver miner that operates far outside AMC’s core business.
Speaking during the conference call, Aron noted that Hycroft Mining has just announced its largest exploration program in about a decade. “We have every confidence that our Hycroft investment will pan out, excuse the pun, to be quite lucrative for AMC,” he said. “I am so convinced that, when the story is finally written, this will be a good one for AMC.”
However, AMC’s financial health remains a cause for concern, according to data from RapidRatings, a company that assesses the finances of public and private companies.
Of eight analysts surveyed by FactSet, three have hold ratings on AMC and five have sell ratings.