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Jun 03, 2021

Salted or sweet? AMC to offer popcorn to shareholders

AMC has more than 3 mn shareholders, with retail representing more than 80 percent of them

Following massive retail investor and Redditor interest, AMC Entertainment has announced that it will offer its shareholders perks as part of a plan to build a new proactive communications channel.

AMC Entertainment now has more than 3 mn retail shareholders, representing more than 80 percent of its overall base, according to a company press release. Yesterday the company announced the launch of Investor Connect, a new communications and engagement initiative that will be used to speak directly to its retail base.

The company’s share price has increased by more than 1,100 percent during the last year, most notably during the initial GameStop short-squeeze triggered by the WallStreetBets Reddit group. AMC Entertainment was among the securities that Robinhood and other brokers halted trading in during the initial frenzy. This morning, AMC Entertainment announced plans to sell 11.5 mn shares, which prompted a 35 percent drop in share price and a brief halt in trading.

While many commentators and capital markets professionals continue to be bemused by the valuations of GameStop and AMC Entertainment, the companies have taken steps to build on the momentum generated by such unprecedented retail interest. In April GameStop sold 3.5 mn additional shares, raising $551 mn.

In a press release, AMC Entertainment says Investor Connect will be used to offer shareholder-exclusive discounts and access to special screenings, as well as giving investors access to direct communications with AMC’s president and CEO Adam Aron. Shareholders will be offered a free large popcorn this summer, to celebrate the launch of Investor Connect, available through an AMC Stubs rewards account.

AMC Entertainment did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but in the press release Aron says: ‘AMC Investor Connect will put our company in direct communication with a retail investor shareholder base that owned more than 80 percent of AMC at last count. Many of our investors have demonstrated support and confidence in AMC. We intend to communicate often with these investors, and from time to time provide them with special benefits at our theatres. We start with a free large popcorn on us, when they attend their first movie at an AMC theatre this summer.

‘During my more than five-year tenure as CEO at AMC, I’ve taken great pride in the relationships I have forged with AMC’s owners. With AMC Investor Connect, that effort in relationship building will continue apace even if our shareholders now number in the millions. After all, these people are the owners of AMC, and I work for them.’

AMC Entertainment is the most high-profile example of a public company offering or formalizing the perks it offers to retail shareholders. Two start-ups – Stockperks and TiiCKER – have been working to provide IR teams with the infrastructure to offer perks to retail shareholders.

‘There has been a pronounced transformation in the retail investor landscape,’ says Agnies Watson, CEO and co-founder of Stockperks. ‘IR is really the next frontier of loyalty programs: the folks who own a company’s stock are – quite literally – invested in that company’s success.

‘Having a way to speak directly to, activate and reward that particular audience can really supercharge a company’s understanding of its core market. We see so many possibilities here: from market research through product feedback all the way to beta-testing and early or exclusive access, and just about everything in between.’ 

Jeff Lambert, founder and CEO of TiiCKER, says: ‘We know that 77 percent of US retail investors say they would be more likely to buy stock if they [were] offered a reward or perk and 80 percent of those shareholders are more likely to be a consumer of the brand, according to a 2020 omnibus TiiCKER/Harris Poll survey. AMC’s shareholder perks announcement and resulting volume and price gains were unequivocal proof and an eye opener to the potential for public company brands to tap into and quantify shareholder lifetime value.’

Following the influx of retail investors, a small group of public companies are demonstrating a willingness to experiment with new communications tools to engage with retail shareholders – from Clubhouse to Reddit AMAs and town hall Q&As.

Ben Ashwell

Ben Ashwell was the editor at IR Magazine and Corporate Secretary , covering investor relations, governance, risk and compliance. Prior to this, he was the founder and editor of Executive Talent , the global quarterly magazine from the Association of...