Cineworld Group PLC (LSE:CINE), the world’s second largest cinema chain, tops the list for most shorted stocks in the UK, with 7.64% of the shares in issue held by investors in a short position.
The company suffered greatly throughout the uncertainty caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, with it forced to shut most of its 787 locations globally for large parts of the last 18 months.
Its share price dropped to its lowest 24.76 in October last year, down from its pre-Covid price of 181.70p.
Despite a mini surge in price earlier this year as its screens became operational again, it has been a struggle for the shares that currently trade at 61.82p.
Cineworld is also heavily riddled with debt, having reported in August that its net liability for the first half 2021 reached US$8.5bn.
Mooky Greidinger, the chief executive said, “While our results still carry the effect of COVID and related lack of product, we are encouraged by the upcoming line-up of big releases, especially for the upcoming four months.
“This will include four new Marvel movies as well as Top Gun Maverick, the new Bond, Matrix, Dune and many more.”
No Time to Die, Daniel Craigs final appearance as James Bond, made over US$300mln in global box office receipts, a much-needed boost for the industry.
Dune, the sci-fi film also made a whopping US$223mln worldwide.
But with a potential tightening of restrictions being talked about as COVID cases continue to rise, Cineworld’s future still hangs in the balance.
There will also be concerns over the rise of streaming services, many of which began to release its major films directly to its own streaming services as cinemas were shut.
Disney and Warner Bros, two giants in the film producing industry, have continued to maintain a dual release strategy for many of its films.
Giving consumers an option to watch in the cinema or stream at home has already had a direct impact on those in the cinema market.
Most notably, Black Widow starring Scarlet Johansson brought in US$218mln in box office receipts on the opening weekend when it was released in July this year.
Producers Disney however also released it onto its streaming service, Disney+ simultaneously, which resulted in a drop in ticket sales after the first three days as many people opted to watch at home instead, according to AJ Bell financial analyst Danni Hewson.