A half-dozen AMC leaders are cashing in on the “meme stock” madness.
Four AMC executives and a pair of directors unloaded more than $8 million worth of shares last week, according to regulatory filings.
The stock sales occurred as shares of the world’s largest theater chain skyrocketed, in large part because it’s a favorite of traders who follow Reddit’s WallStreetBets page.
AMC spiked 83% last week alone, building on a 116% surge from the week before. And AMC is up another 15% Monday, leaving the stock with a staggering gain of about 2,500% in 2021. And the year isn’t even half over.
Cornell Law School professor Charles Whitehead said the stock sales, previously reported by Business Insider, don’t raise any legal concerns in his view.
“In light of what’s happening to AMC’s stock, I’d be more surprised if they weren’t selling,” Whitehead said.
‘Very inflated stock price’
The filings show Carla Chavarria, AMC’s chief human resources officer, sold 40,346 shares last week and raked in $2.5 million. Chavarria still holds more than 44,000 AMC shares, the filings indicate.
The other three AMC executives who sold last week were John McDonald, executive vice president of US operations; Daniel Ellis, senior vice president of development and international; and Elizabeth Frank, chief content officer.
Former US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, an AMC director since February 2016, sold $1.7 million of AMC shares last week, filings show. That amounted to more than half of Locke’s holdings in AMC. Anthony Saich, another AMC director, sold more than $600,000 worth of shares.
AMC did not respond to requests for comment on the stock sales.
It’s not just executives but also AMC itself taking chips off the table. AMC itself sold 11.5 million shares last week, bringing in $587 million.
“AMC is cashing in on this opportunity to take advantage of what they understand to be a very inflated stock price,” Whitehead said.
Indeed, last week’s stock sale by the company included an unusual warning. “Under the circumstances, we caution you against investing in our Class A common stock, unless you are prepared to incur the risk of losing all or a substantial portion of your investment,” AMC wrote in a filing.
SEC on high alert
Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Monday that it is on the lookout for manipulative trading and other misconduct amid the boom in AMC, GameStop and other meme stocks.
“SEC staff continues to monitor in light of the ongoing volatility in certain stocks to determine if there have been any disruptions of the market, manipulative trading or other misconduct,” the agency said in a statement.
“We will act to protect retail investors if violations of federal securities laws are found,” the regulators added.
At the same time, SEC Chairman Gary Gensler is calling for new restrictions on pre-scheduled executive stock-trading plans, known as 10b5-1 plans. (AMC executives did not appear to use 10b5-1 plans for these trades.)
During an appearance at The Wall Street Journal’s CFO Network event Monday, Gensler said he wants to revise existing rules to reduce the risk of improper insider trading.