AMC stock erases a 38% rally and turns red in wild trading, but ends the week up 116%

An AMC theatre is pictured amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., January 27, 2021.
Carlo Allegri | Reuters

Shares of AMC Entertainment jumped double digits in premarket trading on Friday as Reddit traders kept piling into the speculative name this week.

The stock popped 17% in early trading following a 35% advance in the previous session. Shares have already rallied nearly 120% week to date, bringing its monstrous 2021 rally to 1,150%.

AMC was the most active stock on the New York Stock Exchange by far on Thursday with nearly 700 million shares changed hands. Its 30-day trading volume average is just above 100 million shares, according to FactSet.

“The retail trader is at it again,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda. “AMC500k and AMCSqueeze were trending on Twitter yesterday and that momentum took the stock price above the end of January high that we saw during the peak of meme stock mania.” 

The movie theater chain has replaced GameStop to become the most popular stock in the infamous WallStreetBets Reddit forum, according to Bank of America’s analysis of stock mentions on the platform.

Enthusiastic Reddit traders are encouraging each other to double down on AMC’s stock and call options by sharing screenshots of their portfolio and touting massive return. One trending post on WSB Friday reads: “$AMC YOLO UPDATE : 4948 shares, 10 calls, across 4 brokerages, and I still ain’t selling!”

GameStop, which was the star of the show amid the January retail trading mania, is up a relatively mild 40% this week.

AMC’s surge this week has already inflicted a $1.3 billion loss for short sellers, according to data from S3 Partners.

Short covering could be fueling AMC’s massive rally this week. When a heavily shorted stock jumps higher in a rapid fashion, short sellers are forced to buy back borrowed shares to close out their short position and cut losses. The forced buying tends to accelerate the rally even further.

AMC is a heavily shorted name with about 20% of its float shares sold short, compared with an average of 5% short interest in a typical U.S. stock, according to S3 Partners.

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