Top theater exhibitors breathed a sigh of relief this week after New York City gave them the nod to start welcoming moviegoers back.
Shares in AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. and Cinemark Holdings Inc. jumped after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted that New York City cinemas could reopen at limited capacity starting March 5. Cuomo said movie theaters can open at 25% capacity, with no more than 50 people per screen. Masks and assigned seating will be required, he added.
AMC President and CEO Adam Aron in a statement responded that the cinema chain will implement health, sanitation and cleanliness measures across its locations in the city, including social distancing, automatic seat blocking, mandatory mask wearing and upgraded air filtration. The movie theater industry has been hard hit by the pandemic as theaters have remained closed in various cities, leaving most operators strapped for cash.
Wall Street cheered the news, with Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter calling Cuomo's announcement a "ray of light" for AMC that could entice other densely populated areas to follow suit. He also considers there to be "significant pent-up desire" from consumers to return to movie theaters despite some initial hesitations.
Though B. Riley Securities analyst Eric Wold noted in a report that Cinemark does not have any operations in New York City, he still expects the reopening to bring back film slate stability that will benefit the entire industry.
Also this week, AMC appeared to get sucked back into the retail-trading frenzy on popular online forum Reddit that dominated headlines for much of last month.
Though a specific catalyst for the run-up seems unclear, a report from The Wall Street Journal this week said it likely a result of renewed interest from individual investors, combined with an activity spike in the options market. An option is a contract that allows investors to buy or sell things like securities or ETFs at a predetermined price over a certain time period.
AMC shares closed Feb. 25 up 45.44% from their Feb. 19 close, at $8.29 apiece. Cinemark rose 4.49% over the same period.
Elsewhere, shares in Snapchat-parent Snap Inc. and Twitter Inc. moved in different directions following the companies' annual investor events.
Snap stock fell even after the company told investors at its inaugural analyst day Feb. 23 that its latest ad investments could help drive over 50% in revenue growth over the coming years. Snap Senior Director of Ad Products Peter Sellis noted the company's focus on self-serve advertising, or the ability for advertisers to place their own ads without help from an ad sales representative, has boosted cost per impression for Snap while driving return on investment for advertisers.
Snap stock ended Feb. 25 trading down 3.43% for the week-to-date.
Twitter on Feb. 25 noted it aims to count 315 million monetizable daily active users by the end of 2023, and to at least double the company's total annual revenue that same year. "We're confident we can hit these goals and we're confident they will make us even stronger and more valuable," Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said.
Twitter closed the Feb. 25 session up 3.36% for the week, at $74.71 per share.
Finally, The Walt Disney Co. continued the upward momentum as investors applauded the company's latest streaming push. The media conglomerate on Feb. 23 launched Star, an international general entertainment offering, across Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Star is part of the company's Disney+ streaming platform.
Singapore was the first market to roll out Disney+ with Star. The new offering will continue to launch in new markets later in 2021 with Eastern Europe, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea.
Disney ended the first four days of trading this week up 4.06%, at $191.11 a share.