What’s New With Cannabis Stocks for the Week Ending 12/23/21

Navigate the fast-moving cannabis sector with 420 Investor, a premium service that sends real-time alerts and explanations of the news below and much more.

Summary 

  • Michigan cannabis sales increased 66% in November to $153 million.
  • Canadian retail cannabis sales increased 36% in October to C$364 million.
  • 420 Investor model portfolios have returned -19.9% to 23.4% year-to-date, while the Global Cannabis Stock Index has lost 22.7%.

Review

Michigan cannabis sales fell 6% in November from October and expanded 66% from a year ago to $153 million.. Canadian retail cannabis sales grew 36% from a year ago to C$364 million in October, a record.

During the week, I shared these insights with subscribers at 420 Investor:

  • Prepare for More Consolidation in Canada
  • Cannabis Sub-Sector Review – 12/17/21
  • Model Portfolio Composition 12/17/21

Here are some of this week’s highlights for 420 Investor Focus List names:

  • AAWH completed the acquisition of a dispensary in the Columbus, Ohio area.
  • AYRWF opened its 43rd Florida dispensary.
  • CURLF plans to open 4 additional Florida dispensaries by year-end. It announced the pending acquisition of an Arizona dispensary for $13 million.
  • OGI announced the acquisition of Quebec-based LP Laurentian Organic for C$36 million, a multiple of 2.1X its revenue run-rate and 6X adjusted EBITDA. It expanded its recent 8% debt financing by $50 million to $475 million. It also invested an additional C$2.5 million into Hyasynth Biologicals, a developer of biosynthetic cannabinoids.
  • PLNHF will be acquiring publicly-traded California operator Next Green Wave, which, along with its CEO, was sued for fraud days before the announcement,  in a stock-based deal valued at US$71 million at the time of announcement. It won a dozen awards at the High Times Cannabis Cup and the Jack Herer Cup in Las Vegas.
  • SHWZ closed its acquisition of Smoking Gun dispensary in Glendale, Colorado for $4 million and 100K shares.
  • SMG announced that Hawthorne has received patents on its Gavita CT 1930e LED light, their first LED capable of 1:1 replacement for HPS fixtures.
  • TCNNF opened two dispensaries during the week in Florida, leaving them with 112 in the state and 159 across the country.
  • UGRO added King Solomon Nutrients as a partner.
  • VLNS inked a deal to supply PMI Mexico with CBD for a clinical trial and will also manufacture and distribute CBD infused and uninfused Predilife prebiotic products in Mexico for the company. It will also be providing extraction and manufacturing of the vapes and pre-rolls for MTL Cannabis.

Market Performance

The Global Cannabis Stock Index posted a new 52-week closing low on Monday and then rebounded over the balance of the week, increasing 3.1% to 34.32:

The index, which lost 34.1% in 2019 and lost 54.9% in 2018 after gaining 91.8% in 2017 and 88.8% in 2016, was up 5.2% in 2020. It has lost 22.7% in 2021 thus far. It currently includes 42 stocks and ended 2020 at 44.39:

Model Portfolios

420 Investor offers three model portfolios for subscribers, including two that are long-term focused and fully invested with a goal of beating the Global Cannabis Stock Index, 420 Opportunity and 420 Quality. 420 Opportunity ended the week valued at $93,277, up 2.2%. The model portfolio, down 11.5% in 2021, gained 35.6% in 2020 and has increased 86.6% since April 2014 despite the large loss in the index since then. 420 Quality ended the week at $129,400, up 2.8% for the week, and is now down 19.9% in 2021 after gaining 42.8% in 2020. The model was launched in March 2017 targeting long-term investors seeking to invest in leading cannabis stocks with low portfolio turnover and has gained 158.8% since inception compared to the 57.6% decline in the index since then. Flying High, which is focused on swing trades, ended the week valued at $311,533, up 5.2%. The model portfolio gained 52.7% in 2020 and is up 23.4% in 2021, and the return since inception in late 2013 has been 3015%.

Outlook

The cannabis sector has continued to evolve through several ups and downs over the past few years. 2021 began by extending on massive gains in Q4 but hit a wall in mid-February, sliding the balance of the year after the market had gotten ahead of itself. Disappointment over the slow pace of federal reforms or the move towards legalization was a factor, but decreasing growth in cannabis sales, regulatory delays in several states and the implosion of the wholesale flower market in California played roles as well. In Canada, while the market has continued to grow, the evolution to derivative products has been slow. Additionally, the largest LPs have lost market share and have been unable to scale thus far.

The bull market that began in March 2020 after the pandemic and the capital crunch that followed the vaping crisis in 2019 appears to be intact for the American cannabis operators, which continue to trade sharply higher than where they traded in the summer of 2020 despite large declines from the peak in February. Looking forward, the outlook appears strong, with the leading companies moving to positive operating cash flow and having increasing access to non-dilutive capital, including debt, mortgages and sale-leasebacks. Several states will be moving from medical-only to adult-use, including New Jersey, New Mexico, Vermont and Connecticut in 2022, New York in 2023 and Virginia in 2024. Several other states could move to legalize for adult-use as well, including Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Several states are expanding programs as well, with additional dispensaries ahead for Illinois. Medical-only state Minnesota will be adding flower and edibles in 2022, and Ohio is expanding its program as well.​ Increasing competition within certain state markets that is weighing on profitability will likely remain a challenge. Further, while many see federal legalization as a positive, this remains a potential risk-factor in my view.

While the stocks of American cannabis companies continue to be held by mainly retail investors, 2021 saw an increase in institutional investment. Another big development has been the growth in AdvisorShares Pure US Cannabis ETF (MSOS), which has broadened the access to cannabis companies for investors that don’t trade OTC stocks. Additionally, a number of ancillary companies have gone public and trade on higher exchanges, offering institutional investors a way to invest in the industry. We have seen several investments into American cannabis companies, mainly by Canadian LPs, but, looking ahead, strategic investment through creative financial structures will likely extend to CPG companies in 2022.

At the federal level, the FDA (or Congress) could provide clarity on CBD regulation. With respect to THC, both Democrats (Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act​) and Republicans (States Reform Act​) are advancing legislation to legalize cannabis. While this is going to be a long process in my view due to the complexity (varying state regulations, role of FDA, social equity, taxation), this is very different from what the developing cannabis sector faced just a few years ago: potential crackdowns against state legalization. I remain hopeful that Congress can advance small reforms, including expanded research and SAFE Banking. An enhanced financial reform that explicitly permitted companies operating in state-legal cannabis to trade on higher exchanges would be extremely positive.

Beyond America, cannabis legalization continues to proliferate. While Canada remains the largest federally legal cannabis market, many other countries have medical programs, including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay (fully legal) in South America. Mexico has legalized for possession but doesn’t yet have a regulated program, and it could legalize for adult-use as well. Australia’s medical program was slow to start but has gained traction. New Zealand has a medical program as well. In Africa, several countries have legalized medical cannabis. Europe, of course, has seen widespread adoption of medical cannabis. Germany has been slow to develop but could move to legalize for adult-use. Other markets where there is medical cannabis include Denmark, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, and Portugal. The UK and Israel have medical cannabis, and Israel could move to legalize for adult-use. Of course, let’s not forget Jamaica!

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Exclusive article by Alan Brochstein, CFA
Alan Brochstein, CFA
Based in Houston, Alan leverages his experience as founder of online community 420 Investor, the first and still largest due diligence platform focused on the publicly-traded stocks in the cannabis industry. With his extensive network in the cannabis community, Alan continues to find new ways to connect the industry and facilitate its sustainable growth. At New Cannabis Ventures, he is responsible for content development and strategic alliances. Before shifting his focus to the cannabis industry in early 2013, Alan, who began his career on Wall Street in 1986, worked as an independent research analyst following over two decades in research and portfolio management. A prolific writer, with over 650 articles published since 2007 at Seeking Alpha, where he has 70,000 followers, Alan is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and a frequent source to the media, including the NY Times, the Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, and Bloomberg TV. Contact Alan: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Email

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