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No. 45: AMC

Kansas City

Revenue: $1.21 billion,

a 3% increase

Loss: $105.9 million

AMC Entertainment is riding high these days, with the maverick exhib sporting a figurative cowboy hat tipped jauntily to one side.

And using stock price as a measure of corporate performance, the Kansas City, Mo.-based company would seem to have reason to be cocky.

Less than a year ago, its price was flirting with penny stock levels as AMC was beset by a crisis of confidence among investors prompted by an industrywide financial crunch that forced almost a dozen circuits into bankruptcy reorgs. Today, AMC’s share price trades well clear of $10, and there’s little chance the chain will follow its rivals into bankruptcy court.

Much credit is due to a $250 million capital infusion by New York-based Apollo Management; the investment firm has a 60% stake in AMC but no voting control.

Revitalized by the coin and a return of investors’ confidence, AMC last month unveiled a bold $62.5 million bid to buy beleaguered competitor General Cinemas, which operates 677 screens, compared with AMC’s roughly 2,800.

That gambit followed a previous announcement that AMC would test monthly movie passes in two markets and roll out a similar plan nationwide in January. The move is considered controversial. Distribs fear it ultimately will hurt their box office share and other exhibs worry over a resulting market share war.

But CEO Peter Brown isn’t bashful about blazing new paths. In March, he announced AMC was quitting the National Assn. of Theater Owners, saying the circuit just wanted to distinguish itself from the rest of the industry’s ailing pack.

“It doesn’t serve our interests,” he said.

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