Retail traders on social media are trying on Wednesday what even Natasha Romanoff, aka the "Black Widow", couldn't do on Monday or Tuesday: lift the share price of AMC Entertainment (AMC).
Despite the blockbuster return of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to big screens () on Friday with Scarlett Johansson's standalone "Widow" film hauling in $80 million to break the previous post-pandemic record of "F9"s $70 million opening weekend in June, shares of cinema chain AMC fell almost 15% on the first two trading days of the week, a drop that maddened bullish investors in AMC on internet platform Reddit.
Rallying around the fact that AMC announced on Monday morning that "Approximately 3.2 million people watched movies at AMC's United States and international theatre locations between Thursday, July 8 and Sunday, June 11," the highest turnout in 16 months, retail traders blamed the stock drop on their old enemies: short selling hedge funds that they believe have regained control of the stock price via manipulation despite the fact individual investors own roughly 80% of AMC's float.
And while some investors might have seen the fact that "Black Widow" also made $60 million from premium streaming downloads on Disney+ as a signal that the theater business is still dealing with an existential threat, Redditors didn't take the result lying down.
AMC shareholders became almost interactive with company CEO Adam Aron () in recent weeks, even forcing his hand on another share offering that would have paid down the theatre chain's still massive post-COVID debt load. This week though they decided to energize each other into buying whatever AMC stock they could get their hands on after shares fell below $40 for the first time since it's rocket surge in late May and early June.
And they used hashtags to do it, proclaiming Tuesday as another #AMCDay.
By mid-Tuesday, social media was rife with speculation that hedge funds were artificially depressing AMC's stock price using ladder attacks and options spoofing, intricate trading maneuvers that have long been part of the retail trading community's allegations against mainstream finance.
One data point that was of particular interest to traders on social media was that AMC had been removed from the New York Stock Exchange's threshold list on Friday. That list is compiled of stocks that are on high alert for naked shorting after failing to settle for five straight trading days.
Many users on Twitter and Reddit saw that move as deeply sketchy and called for their fellow self-anointed "Apes" to hold their shares as the price swooned in order to smoke out the naked shorters in the tall grass.
"There are absolutely no sellers, no one is dumping this stock at 4am in pre market. If there were sellers AMC wouldn't have been on the threshold list to begin with," Reddit user popsmoke1122334455 posted Tuesday afternoon. "Divorce yourself from your emotions."
Data from Fintel showed that AMC stock's short interest had ticked up slightly on Monday and Tuesday.
Even sometime meme stock skeptic Jim Cramer joined the chorus of people urging AMC believers to keep their hands "diamond", tweeting () "AMC buyers HOLD!" in the early hours of Tuesday.
But despite the social media explosion that had #AMCDAY as the second-highest trending term on Twitter, volume on AMC was just over half of its average daily trading volume and the price remained stuck just below $40.
That did not seem to dampen the ardor of some AMC bulls who made it clear that they would keep the campaign up into Wednesday.
"DEAR HEDGEFUNDS," tweeted @AMC_Apee. "RETAIL INVESTORS ARE NEVER GIVING UP. BEEN HOLDING FOR 7 MONTHS AND WILL CONTINUE."
Still, AMC shares were down more than 3% pre-market.
-Thornton McEnery; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
July 14, 2021 10:03 ET (14:03 GMT)
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