AMC (AMC 0.77%) shareholders face an epic annual meeting that will have them vote on authorizing additional shares of AMC stock for sale. The company is in a tug of war between retail investors buying AMC stock and Wall Street hedge funds selling shares short. Importantly, when a person or institution sells shares short, they are counting on the stock price to drop in order to make a profit.

However, that plan can be thwarted by an equal or stronger force on the other side of the trade, betting that the stock price will go up instead. In the middle of this battle is management, which is trying to capitalize on the fact that AMC's stock price is up over 2,500% year to date.

People watching a movie at a theater.

Image source: Getty Images.

Voting will take place between June 16 and July 28 

In connection with the annual meeting of shareholders scheduled for July 29, shareholders whose shares have settled as of June 2 will be asked to vote on several proposals brought forth by AMC management. The most important of these will be the authorization of an additional 25 million shares of AMC stock to be sold no earlier than 2022.

There are already 501.78 million shares of AMC stock authorized, and management has exercised the authority to sell nearly all of those shares in a bid to shore up the balance sheet. Most recently, it sold 11.55 million shares of AMC stock at an average price of $50.85, raising $587.4 million. 

If management is given the authorization and can sell those 25 million shares of AMC stock at the average price of $60.73 (today's closing price), that would raise $1.5 billion in cash. The money, combined with the $1.2 billion it raised in the last few months, will go a long way toward fortifying AMC's balance sheet.

The company can use it to pay back some of its $5.4 billion in debt and reduce its interest expense. Or it could hold onto it defensively to protect itself against further disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Folks laughing while watching a movie in a theater.

AMC stock is up over 2,500%. Image source: Getty Images.

Tough choice 

Retail investors who are hoping to pull off a short squeeze have a tough choice in front of them. On the one hand, voting in favor of authorizing management to sell additional AMC stock could secure its balance sheet and help it make it through the pandemic. On the other hand, increasing share count will make it harder to pull off a short squeeze because more AMC stock is in circulation.

Management can be commended on playing its cards well. The surge in AMC's stock price is giving it a lifeline. It's easy to forget that the company was in danger of running out of cash during the depths of the pandemic. Now, with states easing business restrictions, folks returning to movie theaters, and bolstered by an additional $1.2 billion on its balance sheet, that danger has retreated.

However the vote turns out, it will be interesting to follow as 4.1 million shareholders decide on the outcome. Stay tuned.