Options Traders Blast AMC Entertainment Stock on Special Dividend

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The movie theater name reported worse-than-expected second-quarter losses

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc (NYSE:AMC) posted worse-than-expected second-quarter losses of 24 cents per share yesterday, while its revenue came in slightly above estimates. To make amends, the movie theater concern announced a special dividend in the form of one preferred share for every AMC common share held. As a result, the retail trader favorite expects roughly 517 million preferred shares to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the “APE” symbol.

Nevertheless, the equity was last seen down 6% to trade at $17.54. The shares’ latest rally yesterday lost steam at the $20 level, but the security still settled at its best level since early April. AMC Entertainment stock is testing the $16 level today, and could add to its 36.7% year-to-date deficit.

Analysts are overwhelmingly pessimistic towards AMC, with all six in coverage calling it a “hold” or worse. The equity is still heavily shorted, too, despite short interest dropping 14.9% in the last two reporting periods. In fact, the 96.16 million shares sold short make up 18.7% of the stock’s available float.

Meanwhile, the options pits have displayed a clear preference for calls. This is per the security’s 50-day call/put volume ratio of 3.05 at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Cboe Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), which sits higher than all but 1% of readings in its annual range. This means long calls have been getting picked up at a much faster-than-usual rate. 

Overall options volume is today running at triple the intraday average, with 69,000 calls and 33,000 puts across the tape so far. Most popular is the 8/5 17.50-strike call, where new positions are being opened, followed by the 20-strike call in that series, both of which expire at the close.