What happened

Shares of companies whose business is centered on large groups of people coming together -- including a concert organizer, theater owners, and a fitness-center operator -- are powering ahead in the final day of the trading week. As of 2 p.m. EDT Friday, gym operator Planet Fitness (NYSE:PLNT) was enjoying an 11% surge in its stock price, while Live Nation Entertainment (NYSE:LYV) was up a respectable 4%, and cinema chains Cinemark Holdings (NYSE:CNK) and AMC Entertainment (NYSE:AMC) were up 13% and 32%, respectively.

Three colorful arrows racing straight up on a black background

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Preliminary results from a University of Chicago Medicine study of 125 COVID-19 patients treated with Gilead Sciences' (NASDAQ:GILD) antiviral medication remdesivir showed rapid recovery, with most patients discharged from the hospital ahead of schedule.  

Some investors are betting that Gilead's remdesivir will prove to be the silver bullet that cures the coronavirus, and the stock market in general is up strongly today -- about 1.5% -- on hope that social distancing and stay-at-home orders will soon be a thing of the past.

It's only natural that companies like AMC, Cinemark, Live Nation, and Planet Fitness would benefit from this optimism.

Now what

The next bit of good news pertains to movie theaters and explains why Cinemark and AMC are doing so much better than most other stocks today. In President Trump's plan to reopen the economy released Thursday, movie theaters are included among the types of employers that will be permitted to reopen in the earliest phase of the plan, albeit under strict physical distancing protocols. Over time, these restrictions can be rolled back to "moderate" (phase 2) and then "limited" (phase 3).  

The plan does not lay out a clear timeline for when the economy might open up again, much less when it might emerge as a whole from recession. But the fact that a plan is in the works seems to have investors feeling optimistic that things might still work out for the four stocks here.

Only time will tell. In that regard, though, it's worth pointing out that on Thursday, AMC informed investors that it only has enough cash right now to keep itself solvent into July 2020.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.