AMC Is New King of Meme Stocks, With a 2,900% Gain This Year

The AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. logo on a smartphone. (Photographer: Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg)

AMC Is New King of Meme Stocks, With a 2,900% Gain This Year

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AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc.’s Reddit-fueled rally has reached about 2,900% so far this year as retail traders ignore the company’s financial troubles and continue to buy heavily shorted stocks.

AMC Is New King of Meme Stocks, With a 2,900% Gain This Year

Shares of the movie-theater chain nearly doubled on Wednesday -- adding to Tuesday’s 23% gain -- after it announced a program called AMC Investor Connect that will reward small-time investors with goodies such as special screenings and free popcorn.

The surge has topped 390% in the last two weeks alone, pushing AMC’s stock price to a record high. Its market capitalization has also ballooned to $31 billion, surpassing other so-called meme stocks. That includes GameStop Corp., which now sits at about $21 billion after reaching a high of $25 billion in January.

AMC Is New King of Meme Stocks, With a 2,900% Gain This Year

While AMC’s dizzying run has rewarded investors who bought into the meme-stock craze, it hasn’t changed the company’s earnings outlook. With the movie chain still reeling from the pandemic, analysts have steadily cut estimates for results before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. They’re now expecting AMC to lose nearly $100 million on that basis over the next 12 months.

AMC declined to comment.

AMC Is New King of Meme Stocks, With a 2,900% Gain This Year

Adding to the troubling fundamental picture is AMC’s growing debt burden. The company has seen its long-term debt pile nearly triple from less than $2 billion in 2016 to $5.4 billion as of the first three months of this year.

AMC Is New King of Meme Stocks, With a 2,900% Gain This Year

Despite the wild rally this year, analysts have held their price targets in check, relatively speaking. AMC’s average 12-month price target has more than doubled since January to $5.11, but still remains more than 90% below current levels.

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