Movie theater chain and meme stock favorite AMC has taken several steps of late to diversify beyond its core business. The company has recently gotten into cryptos and NFTs and also plans to sell its own popcorn brand at retail stores.
And in another unconventional move, AMC is going from the silver screen to silver mining.
AMC announced Tuesday that it plans to invest about $28 million to buy a 22% stake in Hycroft Mining, a Nevada-based public company that operates a gold and silver mine.
Precious metals investor Eric Sprott is also spending about $28 million for a 22% stake in Hycroft. The company said in a press release that the combined $56 million investment was “anchored” by Sprott.
AMC CEO Adam Aron said in a press release that the recent box office success of “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “The Batman” have given the company confidence about a continued recovery in the movie theater industry. (“The Batman” was released by Warner Bros., which like CNN, is a part of AT&T (T)-owned WarnerMedia.)
Aron said that the Hycroft investment “is the result of our having identified a company in an unrelated industry that appears to be just like AMC of a year ago.”
“It, too, has rock-solid assets, but for a variety of reasons, it has been facing a severe and immediate liquidity issue,” Aron added. He also tweeted that “AMC is playing on offense again with a bold diversification move.”
Shares of Hycroft, despite a recent rally in gold and silver prices due to broader market uncertainty in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have plunged more than 70% in the past 12 months. The company, which owns and operates just one mine, has been losing money.
Hycroft said in a press release last month that it had $12.3 million in cash at the end of 2021. So it is getting a big infusion of money from the AMC and Sprott investments.
“We couldn’t be more pleased to announce this transformational investment in the future of Hycroft,” said Hycroft president and CEO Diane Garrett in the company’s own press release about the investment.
Garrett also praised AMC’s turnaround in recent years, noting that the theater chain “has proven its expertise and ability to address liquidity challenges and to raise capital to optimize the value of significant underlying assets.”
The investment makes sense for Hycroft, and also for Sprott, given his background in the gold and silver industry. But how so for AMC? Considering the company’s recent forays into crypto, it would seem more likely that it might buy a stake in a bitcoin miner as opposed to a precious metals one.
Aron noted in the AMC press release that “independent third-party studies confirm that the 71,000 acre Hycroft Mine in northern Nevada has some 15 million ounces of gold resources and some 600 million ounces of silver resources.”
Still, AMC shares have pulled back sharply this year as meme mania has subsided. The stock is down nearly 50% in 2022 after soaring about 1,200% in 2021. Aron is still confident that better days are ahead.
“Investors should think creatively and boldly about AMC’s future, because within the company, we ourselves have been thinking creatively and boldly about our future,” Aron said Tuesday.