Shares of movie theater operator AMC Entertainment Holdings (NYSE:AMC) fell just shy of 10% in the first hour of trading on Nov. 30. Although the company didn’t release any news or submit any more troubling filings to the SEC, it didn’t need to for investors to turn pessimistic. Box office results were more than enough bad news to do that.
AMC’s theaters were shut down because they were deemed non-essential in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Although the company has been allowed to reopen locations, it is still dealing with occupancy constraints, heightened cleaning regimens, and movie production companies that are delaying new movie releases. The company has even warned that it could run out of cash by the end of 2020 or in early 2021 if conditions don’t improve. It’s taking steps to prevent that, but the fact that it made such an announcement is very worrying.
Which is why the Thanksgiving weekend was so troubling for owners of the shares of this struggling movie theater operator. According to industry watchers, the five-day weekend is projected to have ticket sales of just $17 million or so. In 2019, the same weekend produced ticket sales of $262 million. The top film this year was the second installment of The Croods from Universal Pictures, which accounted for most of the box office take at roughly $14 million. Put simply, it was a terrible weekend for movie chains like AMC and more evidence that consumers don’t want to go to the movies.
Conservative long-term investors should not be investing in AMC Entertainment stock. There’s a very real risk that this company won’t make it through the coronavirus crisis. In the meantime, the stock is likely to remain highly volatile, driven sharply higher and lower by company updates, industry news, and, frankly, little more than investors’ daily whims.