It’s a tale of two companies.
The largest cannabis company in the United States and the largest cannabis company in Canada have both bounced significantly higher off their late-2019 lows.
Curaleaf Holdings (CAN:CURA / US:CURLF) and Canopy Growth (US:CGC / CAN:WEED) have both been trending strongly higher in recent weeks.
Curaleaf is the largest U.S. cannabis company and the world’s largest cannabis company by revenue. The company traded as low as CAD$5.93 in early November before beginning to reverse higher.
However, what has really powered CURA’s turnaround was news from December 20, 2019. On that date, Curaleaf announced a massive capital infusion: $275 million (now $300 million) in non-dilutive debt.
[charts courtesy of Stockcharts.com]
Currently trading at CAD$9.75, CURA is now trading 64% above its November low, and 47% above where it was trading just before the December financing was announced – less than four weeks ago. That’s an impressive move for the U.S.’s largest cannabis company.
Then we have Canopy Growth. This is Canada’s largest cannabis company and the world’s largest cannabis company by market cap.
Cannabis investors are all too familiar with the terrible year in 2019 for the company. After reaching a 2019 high of US$52.75, CGC spiraled lower on the back of weak earnings and the general meltdown of marijuana stocks.
Canopy Growth bottomed (hard) at US$13.82 on November 18th, shedding nearly three-quarters of its market cap. Trading today at US$25.29, CGC is up a very substantial 83% from that low.
The catalyst for Canopy Growth’s sharp reversal was a “buy” rating from Bank of America Merrill Lynch on November 20, 2019. But there are also fundamental factors in the company’s favor.
Canopy Growth is seen to be one of the companies that will benefit most from Cannabis 2.0 in Canada. With a full line of edibles and cannabis-infused beverages, CGC is positioned to be a dominant player in these cannabis derivative products in Canada.
These products have been sales growth leaders in cannabis-legal U.S. states. They are expected to generate 3 million new cannabis consumers in Canada.
Bolstering Canopy’s positioning for Cannabis 2.0, the company has been building a strong foothold in the Ontario cannabis market. Simultaneously, the provincial government has a new licensing framework that will further open up retail cannabis in Ontario.
Canopy’s strong financial backing from major shareholder, Constellation Brands (US:STZ) continues to provide the company with a balance sheet advantage versus Canadian peers.
Curaleaf also has some strong positives to entice investors. CURA boasts solid revenue growth and is approaching profitability. Via its acquisition of GR Companies, (“Grassroots”) Curaleaf is poised to become a major player in the new-and-explosive legal cannabis market in Illinois.
Dominating all of this is CURA’s financial strength. The $300 million in capital on which the company just closed puts CURA in an enviable position as an industry consolidator in the U.S. Many smaller companies with quality operations can be scooped up at literally pennies on the dollar.
Impressive gains for the two industry leaders. The question cannabis investors are asking: will this translate into a broader rally for marijuana stocks in 2020?
The Seed Investor has already dubbed 2020 the Year of Opportunity for marijuana stocks. In Canada, the growth drivers are both obvious and significant.
The 3 million new cannabis consumers estimated to have been created by Cannabis 2.0 would translate into nearly a 50% increase in the overall consumer base. Lots more consumers.
There were well-documented problems in Canada in 2019 with the opening of retail cannabis stores, especially in the three largest provinces (markets): Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia.
With the exception of Quebec, these problems are now abating. B.C. will soon have over 150 licensed cannabis stores in the province. Ontario’s new licensing framework could multiply cannabis stores by nearly a factor of ten in 2020 – from the current (anemic) total of 25 stores.
Lots more cannabis consumers in Canada. Lots more cannabis stores in which they can shop. Lots more cannabis products -- generally higher margin and stronger demand products -- for them to purchase.
This isn’t rocket science. There will be substantial revenue growth in Canada in 2020, triggered by a much stronger climate for cannabis retailers.
We’re calling it a Canadian cannabis retail explosion.
Not surprisingly, some of Canada’s leading cannabis retailers are also boasting big bounces off late-2019 lows.
New retail leader (with 46 cannabis stores), Fire & Flower Holdings (CAN:FAF / US:FFLWF) is up nearly 40%. Meta Growth (CAN:META / US:NACNF), now the #2 retailer, has doubled its share price. Choom Holdings (CAN:CHOO / US:CHOOF), a rising multi-province cannabis retailer, is up over 40%.
The Seed Investor also likes Canadian cannabis extraction, especially the industry extraction leaders, The Valens Company (CAN:VLNS / US:VLNCF) and MediPharm Labs (CAN:LABS / US:MEDIF).
The picture is murkier in the U.S. Regulatory uncertainty continues to weigh heavily on the industry. Access to banking is badly needed, but the SAFE cannabis banking bill may not make it past the Republican-controlled Senate.
The FDA’s foot-dragging on a regulatory framework for CBD is not only harming U.S.-based cannabis companies in general, but hemp companies in particular.
Illinois is an emerging bright spot. The state has racked up $20 million in cannabis sales in less than two weeks since cannabis became fully legal on January 1st. This is despite widespread cannabis supply shortages.
In addition to Curaleaf, companies like Green Thumb Industries (CAN:GTII / US:GTBIF) and Cresco Labs (CAN:CL / US:CRLBF) also have strong positioning in Illinois.
Providing further push for U.S.-based companies, the $300 million in pure debt financing obtained by Curaleaf is expected to be only the first of several such deals with leading U.S. MSO’s.
Well-capitalized winners should benefit directly from this infusion of non-dilutive capital. But even smaller companies should see some spin-off benefits – especially if U.S. regulatory progress is made in 2020. As the big fish start consolidating the small fish, asset prices for the smaller fish can be expected to rise.
The cannabis industry leaders are now moving, in both the U.S. and Canada. A significant number of other companies now appear to have bottomed.
Will a broader rally ensue? With marijuana stock valuations still at multi-year lows, many investors may see very good odds on such a bet.
DISCLOSURE: Choom Holdings is a client of The Seed Investor. The writer holds shares in Curaleaf Holdings, Meta Growth, The Valens Company, MediPharm Labs, and Choom Holdings.