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MarketWatch First Take: It’s National Popcorn Day — and AMC’s CEO is all over it

Thursday marks National Popcorn Day, and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. CEO Adam Aron is all over it.

“National Popcorn Day is tomorrow!” he tweeted Wednesday. “We know popcorn and we value our 890,000 AMC Investor Connect members. So to celebrate, our U.S. moviegoer members will get a free Gourmet Oreo Popcorn.”

Aron followed this up with another popcorn-related tweet. “Here is a fun idea for all AMC U.S. moviegoers,” he wrote. “To celebrate National Popcorn Day tomorrow, for one day only Thurs Jan 19, our salty buttery AMC Perfectly Popcorn is half price! Enjoy!”

Now read: ‘Avatar’ ticket sales better than expected, says AMC CEO Adam Aron

Aron, who has led the movie theater chain since 2016, is a keen user of Twitter to connect with the retail investors who turned AMC

into a meme-stock phenomenon. A fan of memes and quirky tweets, Aron has racked up over 288,000 followers on the platform.

The movie-theater chain has been on a roller-coaster ride over the past two years that took it from beleaguered pandemic victim to meme-stock phenomenon. AMC used the steep rise in its share price to tap into equity and debt markets, raising $917 million in January 2021. 

Set against this backdrop, AMC has made some bold moves. Last year the company stunned investors with an investment in gold- and silver-mining company Hycroft Mining Holding Corp. 

and its 71,000-acre Hycroft Mine in Nevada. The movie-theater chain is also branching out into an AMC-branded credit card and is selling its AMC Perfectly Popcorn in U.S. grocery stores.

Related: AMC’s new free popcorn for retail investors plan is just latest move by increasingly flirty meme-stock execs

But AMC, which reported its 12th consecutive quarterly loss in November, should avoid “distractions” like credit cards and popcorn and dive deeper into IMAX, said Wedbush analyst Alicia Reese.

Earlier this month, Aron, who sold more than $40 million in AMC shares between November 2021 and January 2022, used Twitter to tell investors that he would not sell more of the theater chain’s stock “any time soon,” tweeting, “I ride with you.”

Aron subsequently reiterated his pledge not to sell more stock. “I am AMC’s largest retail shareholder,” he tweeted on Jan. 5.

Now read: ‘I am AMC’s largest retail shareholder’ says CEO Adam Aron, reiterating pledge to not sell more stock

In December, AMC’s stock plunged toward a 22-month low after the company announced a plan to raise $110 million in equity capital and said it was seeking a 1-for-10 reverse split of its common stock. Shares of the meme-stock darling have fallen 52.1% in the last 12 months, far outpacing the S&P 500’s

decline of 13.1%. The stock hit a 52-week low of $3.77 on Jan. 6.

AMC’s stock fell 5.9% Thursday, compared with the S&P 500’s decline of 0.9%.

See: AMC’s CEO asks board to freeze his pay, wants other top execs to forgo raises: ‘No increase for those at the top is the right thing to do’

Earlier this month, Aron said he asked the company’s board to “red circle and freeze” his target cash and stock pay for 2023. He described his move in a series of tweets as AMC shares headed for their third consecutive decline after Aron announced the equity sale and plans for the reverse stock split.

The pay freeze is a move to assuage the cinema chain’s investors, according to Wedbush analyst Reese.

AMC’s Preferred Equity units

, or APEs, made their trading debut in August, heralding the latest chapter in the company’s story.

Also see: What can we expect from meme stocks AMC, GameStop and Bed Bath & Beyond in 2023? 

The APEs have fallen 73.8% since their debut. The name is a nod to the investors who turned the company into a meme stock, who often refer to themselves as “apes” or “ape nation.”

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