Bottom Line: Canada is taking a cautious approach to legalizing cannabis, which is good for public health, but bad for licensed producers’ ability to grow revenues. Come Oct. 17, 2019 Canada will legalize edibles and vape pens that are far inferior and more expensive than black market options.
We are most concerned about vape pen rules. Vape pens are the fastest growing and most popular cannabis product in America and if the Canadian government doesn’t allow at least 500mg of active ingredient per vape pen, the size of the market and the growth rate will disappoint investor expectations.
Bottom Line: It is clear LPs are having no problems finding workarounds to legally operate cannabis retail stores in Ontario, even though the intent of the government was to give small businesses a chance to compete in this market. If the government doesn’t crack down it means Ontario retail will eventually be dominated by LPs in the end. Read more»
Bottom Line: Recreational and medical sales in Canada are running at a $670 million annual pace and grew only 4% in December over November. The government thought sales would be $900 million in the fourth quarter, yet they only came in at $160 million. We estimate the black market still makes up 90% of sales in a $7 billion a year market. If legal demand doesn’t pick up soon, producers are going to be showing much slower revenue growth than the market expects.
Bottom Line: Research house Piper Jaffray notes that beauty retailer Sephora already has a dedicated CBD section in their stores. Exploding demand for raw CBD oil is likely creating an opportunistic window for first movers to sell CBD oil at a high markup.
We expect farmers to overplant hemp in the next two years eventually leading to a significant fall in wholesale CBD prices until revenue per gram approaches production costs of less than $1 per gram.
CBD Search on Google Trends
Bottom Line: Tilray’s deal to buy Manitoba Harvest signals they really want hemp distribution infrastructure and established sales channels. Manitoba generated only C$6MM of EBITDA LTM and lost money in the last three years, so Tilray is paying 70x EBITDA for the business, Tilray trades for 40x. Focusing on sales channels instead of supply may turn out to be a smart move. At the end of the day the industry needs to find buyers for all the CBD supply to come.
Bottom Line: Cannabis use among teens dropped 1% according to a large survey covering states that legalized medical marijuana. The most interesting finding from the study is below.
This study directly contradicts the popular conservative argument that legalization will lead to a spike in teen cannabis use.
Bottom Line: Retail data shows that Baby Boomers and woman are the fastest growing demand demographic. Twice as many women bought cannabis in 2018 vs the year before. This on the ground research echoes what we are seeing from high-level state sales data. Demand for cannabis and hemp-based CBD, in particular, is exploding. Expect an increasing number of first-time users as more research comes out supporting the medical qualities of cannabis
Weekly Marijuana Stock Performance
Marijuana stocks outperformed the broader market this week up 5% compared to the S&P 500 up 1% and the TSX up 2%. U.S. multi-state operators (MSO) are back to outperforming Canadian names.
Interestingly, so far this year the four largest Canadian LP’s have outperformed both the cannabis index as a whole and the U.S. MSOs by 11% and 23% respectively. We think the U.S. MSO’s will start to outperform if the STATEs act allowing cannabis banking is passed, possibly in 2019.
Stocks are seeing a bounce back in the first quarter after selling off so heavily in November and December. Sentiment is getting more positive with the overall market so it is hard to see stocks going through another 20%+ selloff in the first quarter without additional negative earnings news or a global recession. A full buyout of a cannabis company by a consumer packaged good or pharmaceutical company would be a strong positive catalyst for the entire industry.
From a fundamental perspective, be careful owning cannabis stocks into the next two-quarters of earnings. Distribution bottlenecks and a government monopoly do not bode well for licensed producers’ ability to meet or exceed lofty earnings estimates, however, so far the market has been happy with strong revenue growth even if profitability is nowhere to be found.
Longer term, with the Canadian market legalized, we expect retail and wholesale price compression from a legal oversupply by the second half of 2019. Falling cannabis prices will pressure producer stocks later in 2019. After a shakeout, the remaining stocks will be better positioned as long-term buying opportunities.