AMC beats revenue estimates as people return to theaters

FILE PHOTO: Closed signs are seen on an AMC Theatre during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in New York City, U.S., April 29, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) – AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc beat fourth-quarter revenue estimates on Wednesday, as more people visited its movie theaters following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in the United States.

Shares of AMC are one of the so-called “stonks”, stocks that bagged massive gains in a social media-driven retail short squeeze, which caught Wall Street off guard. AMC shares rose 5% in extended trading on Wednesday.

The health crisis devastated the film business in 2020, but AMC’s efforts to stay afloat by raising new capital coupled with a glimmer of hope from the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines signal a recovery in its hard-hit business.

Over the past few weeks, AMC reopened many of the theaters it had to temporarily close due to a resurgence in COVID-19 cases at both its home and international markets.

AMC said it opened all 13 of its New York City theaters and five locations in San Francisco and Santa Clara counties last week. The company added that it operated about 527 of its 589 domestic cinemas, as of Friday.

The cinema chain’s move to implement COVID-19 protocols by reducing seating and disinfecting regularly encouraged more than eight million U.S. and international customers to return to its theaters during the fourth quarter, AMC said.

Revenue slumped 88.8% to $162.5 million in the quarter ended Dec. 31. However, it beat estimates of $142.4 million, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Net loss attributable to AMC widened to $945.8 million, or $6.21 per share, during the quarter, from $13.5 million, or 13 cents per share, a year earlier. AMC booked a $466.1 million non-cash impairment charge during the quarter.

On an adjusted basis, the Leawood, Kansas-based company lost $3.15 per share. Analysts expected a loss of $3.16 per share.

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