Even With $1.5 Billion in Money, This Pot Stock Isn’t a Buy

Even With $1.5 Billion in Money, This Pot Stock Isn’t a Buy

Cash isn’t whatever when purchasing cannabis stocks.

Sean Williams

Over the past 13 months, the cannabis industry has done a 180– and not the excellent kind. Following a first quarter in 2019 that saw more than a lots pot stocks get at least 70%, the past 13 months have featured across-the-board decreases for North American marijuana stocks of 50%to 95%.

To our north, Canadian certified producers have actually been kept back by a myriad of regulatory issues. Health Canada was slow to authorize cultivation and sales licenses and postponed the launch of high-margin derivatives up until mid-December. In addition, Ontario’s previous lottery-based retail licensing system didn’t work, with just 2 lots dispensaries opening in the very first year of adult-use weed being legal.

On The Other Hand, in the U.S., high tax rates on legal cannabis have actually made it essentially impossible for merchants to compete with the black market.

The cherry on top is that many North American pot stocks have also had trouble accessing nondilutive kinds of funding, leaving some pot stocks rushing for money. But as cannabis investors have actually learned, money isn’t whatever when it comes to investing in cannabis stocks.

A handful of dried cannabis buds lying atop a messy pile of cash.

Image source: Getty Images.

Cash isn’t always king in the marijuana space

Take Cronos Group( NASDAQ: CRON) as a perfect example. This is a business that ended its fiscal year with $1.51 billion in cash and just a few million dollars in debt. Basically, Cronos Group has $1.5 billion in net money and a market cap of $1.95 billion.

Cronos entered into this cash hoard in March 2019, when tobacco giant Altria Group( NYSE: MO) closed on a $1.8 billion equity financial investment that offered it a 45%stake in the company. The expectation was that Cronos would be able to use this capital to make acquisitions, push into worldwide markets (consisting of the United States), improve upon its existing infrastructure, and support the launch of derivatives, which took place in late 2019.

Plus, Altria has years of experience in marketing smokable items to customers. With a 45%equity stake in Cronos and a U.S. tobacco service that’s seen gradually declining cigarette shipments, it was anticipated that Altria would aid in the advancement and launch of cannabis-focused vape products in a legalized acquired market. Amongst the numerous alternative-consumption choices, vapes have been pegged by Wall Street as the greatest growth opportunity.

With a brand-name partnership and a boatload of money in tow, Cronos Group might appear like a no-brainer buy. However even with $1.5 billion in cash, it stays a highly avoidable pot stock

A bearded man in sunglasses exhaling vape smoke while outside.

Image source: Getty Images.

Cronos Group’s development strategies have gone up in smoke

Thus far, Cronos Group has only put its cash to work with one significant transaction.

Regrettably, the cannabidiol (CBD) craze seems to have actually fizzled out as rapidly as it came into being, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is partly to blame.

Equally essential, Cronos Group’s vape ambitions have been warded off in a number of ways. Of all, the U.S. suffered through the vape-related health scare last spring and summer season, leading to thousands of hospitalizations and dozens of deaths. Although scientists were able to peg the most likely cause of these strange lung health problems on vitamin E acetate found in illicit-channel item, a small part of the products checked consisting of vitamin E acetate originated from the legal market.

Another problem is the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, which initially manifested in China.

Also of concern is that Quebec and Newfoundland & Labrador have actually prohibited vape sales, pending more research. Alberta prohibited vape sales at first, but its restriction just lasted for two months. The point here is that the Altria-Cronos tie-up hasn’t had an opportunity to shine due to a variety of issues.

An assortment of flowering cannabis plants growing in an indoor commercial farm.

Image source: Getty Images.

From a production viewpoint, Cronos gets lost in the crowd

Making matters worse for Cronos Group, it’s a business that primarily overlooked production escalation in 2018 and 2019 in favor of calculated moves into the derivatives market. With those derivative products not living up to expectations so far, Cronos’ production capabilities have actually been exposed as below average, a minimum of for its size.

What do I imply by subpar? Cronos has one completely operational grow farm that creates an affordable amount of marijuana on a yearly basis. At its peak, Peace Naturals is capable of 40,000 kilos a year. However, Cronos Group repurposed a few of this facility to manage processing and research study for higher-margin acquired items. By contrast, Aurora Cannabis, Canopy Growth, Aphria, and Tilray are all totally capable of maybe 100,000 kilos to 300,000 kilos in peak output annually. You can discover publicly traded Canadian licensed manufacturers at sub-$70 million market caps with more output capacity than Cronos Group. That’s what I indicate when I state below average.

Suffice it to say that Cronos Group’s meager harvest hasn’t resulted in anything near running success. To be clear, Cronos Group has actually been profitable before, but this features a huge asterisk That’s due to the fact that it’s depended on fair-value adjustments and revaluing its acquired liabilities (i.e., warrants held by Altria Group tied to its equity investment) to press into the green. Based on no-nonsense accounting, Cronos isn’t anywhere near repeating success.

What’s more, Cronos revealed a restatement of its 2019 financials in mid-March, eliminating around $7.6 million Canadian in sales from an already anemic top-line figure.

Put plainly, Cronos Group’s money isn’t from another location sufficient of a dangling carrot to make this stock a buy.

Sean Williams has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.”>
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