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Meme Stock AMC Extends Rally, Jumps More Than 20% as Theater Chain Sells New Shares to an Investor

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Shares of AMC Entertainment surged again Tuesday after the theater chain sold more than 8 million shares to an investment firm, the latest in a series of capital raises for the struggling company turned meme stock.

AMC said in a securities filing that it raised $230.5 million through a stock sale to Mudrick Capital Management. The theater company said it would use the funds for potential acquisitions, upgrading its theaters and deleveraging its balance sheet.

Shares were up 22.6% when the market closed.

On Tuesday afternoon, Bloomberg News reported that Mudrick had sold all of its new shares in AMC. The stock fell from its highs of the day following the report.

AMC's business was effectively halted during the pandemic, with movie theaters shut in most of the country for months and major studios delaying releases during the pandemic. However, the stock became a favorite of traders on Reddit and has seen wild swings in recent months.

The shares doubled last week on incredibly high volume as the speculative activity by retail traders driven by message board chats ramped back up once again.

The company has taken advantage of those price surges by selling additional shares to raise cash. The stock is up more than 1,000% year to date.

"Given that AMC is raising hundreds of millions of dollars, this is an extremely positive result for our shareholders," CEO and President Adam Aron said in a filing. "It was achieved through the issuance of only 8.5 million shares, representing less than 1.7% of our issued share capital and only a small portion of our typical daily trading volume."

The dramatic price swings could also be due to a short squeeze in the stock, which is caused by traders who have bet against the stock buying shares to limit their losses. Roughly 20% of the floated shares of the company are sold short, according to S3 Partners.

AMC has around $5 billion in debt and needed to defer $450 million in lease repayments as its revenue largely dried up during the pandemic. Theaters were closed for months to help stop the spread of the virus, and when the company reopened its doors, few consumers felt comfortable attending screenings, and movie studios held back new releases.

Now, as vaccination rates rise and the number of coronavirus cases decline, consumer confidence in returning to movie theaters has spiked. Not to mention, studios are finally releasing new content.

Over the weekend, John Krasinski's "A Quiet Place Part II," the sequel to his 2018 blockbuster, garnered $48.4 million over Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the highest three-day haul of any film release during the pandemic.

For the full four-day Memorial Day weekend, the North American box office tallied nearly $100 million in ticket sales.

Still, while initial box-office receipts are promising, fundamental elements of the movie theater business have changed in the last year, including theater capacity, shared release dates with streaming services and the number of days that movies play in theaters.

The securities filing from AMC, which closed Friday with a $11.8 billion market cap, also has a risk warning for investors: "Our market capitalization, as implied by various trading prices, currently reflects valuations that diverge significantly from those seen prior to recent volatility and that are significantly higher than our market capitalization immediately prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to the extent these valuations reflect trading dynamics unrelated to our financial performance or prospects, purchasers of our Class A common stock could incur substantial losses if there are declines in market prices driven by a return to earlier valuations."

—With reporting by CNBC's Sarah Whitten.

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