It could be said that movie-theater chain AMC Entertainment (NYSE:AMC) stock is the ultimate beneficiary of the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Or at least, that’s what some AMC stockholders are hoping for.
Granted, AMC has reopened nearly all of its theaters in North America. Moreover, the company is gradually bringing moviegoers back to cinemas in Europe.
On the other hand, AMC CEOAdam Aron has admitted that the company nearly filed for bankruptcy five times during the Covid-19 pandemic.
As the old expression goes, we’re not out of the woods yet. The recovery process from a once-in-a-generation black-swan event won’t be easy. And that leads us to another old expression: let the buyer beware.
A Closer Look at AMC Stock
AMC Entertainment reported its first-quarter fiscal data on May 6, and we’ll certainly dive into the details of that.
First, though, I’d like to put a microscope to the market’s reaction to the earnings report.
The following trading day, AMC stock jumped 5.67%, closing at $9.51. That’s a pretty clear signal from the market that it felt good about the company’s financial results.
At the same time, investors should know that the company’s trailing 12-month earnings per share is -$15.60. That’s not great, especially for a stock trading today around $10..
With that in mind, let’s rewind a bit. Back in mid-January, AMC stock was trading at around $2.
Then the Reddit crowd pounced on it, and the share price quickly rocketed to a 52-week high of $20.36.
Sensible minds advised caution at that time, but their warnings often fell upon deaf ears. By mid-February, the stock price had declined to $5 and change.
Since that time, AMC stock has wiggled and wobbled in both directions. Clearly, this isn’t a stock that anyone should pour his or her life savings into. Small position sizes should be the rule, not the exception.
Sorry, Not a Winner
If you only look at the market’s reaction to AMC’s first-quarter data release, you might assume that it was a winning quarter in terms of earnings.
However, that’s not the case. As it turns out, AMC reported a first-quarter loss of $567.2 million, which translates to $1.42 a share. Analysts, on average, were expecting the company to lose $1.31 per share.
So, that was a “miss” for AMC. The quarterly revenues were also a “miss” as the company reported $148.3 million, versus the analysts’ average forecast of $156.3 million in revenues.
To use percentages instead of dollar amounts, AMC’s first-quarter revenues fell by a whopping 84.3% on a year-over-year basis. Furthermore, the company sustained an 88.8% decline in attendance due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Under normal circumstances, the foregoing stats should induce a share-price decline. But then, we’d be hard-pressed to find evidence that these are “normal” circumstances.
Possibly, the market reacted positively to Aron’s statement during the conference call that “our market share in the United States has soared, increasing by about 25% compared to prepandemic levels.”
That’s impressive, but for me, the revenues are the top line and the earnings are the bottom line.
It’s fine to see butts in seats, but an investor should want to see dollars in hand. Again, recall the -$15.60 per share trailing 12-month earnings I cited earlier.
I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t too pleased with the CEO quoting Winston Churchill during the conference call:
“‘This is not the end. It not even the beginning of the end. But it is perhaps the end of the beginning.’… “Sir Winston won his titanic fight. I believe that AMC will win our war too.”
I won’t dare say that Aron is arrogant, or that he’s starting to lose his mind. The pandemic has been hard on all of us, so I’ll give him a pass, this time.
The Bottom Line
Churchill quote gaffe aside, I’m having trouble developing a solid bull thesis in favor of AMC stock.
Therefore, my recommendation is to grab some popcorn, ease the seat back, and enjoy the presentation as a spectator.
On the date of publication, David Moadel did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.