The share price of Aurora Cannabis (ACB) has been exploding since the company released its surprisingly positive earnings. The report showed the company generating much more revenue than expected, while revealing the numbers associated with cutting costs and expenditures.
Investors need to be very cautious now that it has run up so high, as there is no doubt when it starts correcting it’s going to happen fast. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of the trade, although those shorting it correctly will make a lot of money, just as those that went long have.
Indeed, most of Wall Street is surveying the cannabis producer from the sidelines, with TipRanks analytics demonstrating ACB as a Hold. The 12-month average price target stands at $10.93, marking a nearly 26% downside from current levels. (See Aurora stock analysis on TipRanks)
In this article, however, I want to talk about the overall strategy of Aurora and why its future, for the first time in a long time, looks a lot brighter.
The market was surprised by the revenue generated by Aurora in the reporting period, but I wrote in a couple of articles not too long ago that there would be a nice boost from people buying and hoarding pot before the guidelines in Canada went in place in response to COVID-19.
I also mentioned it was likely that the current quarter could be more challenging because consumers may have more than enough product for their usage.
In regard to that, the company did state in the earnings report that through the first half of the quarter they haven’t seen any decline in sales. I think a major reason for that is because of an increase in derivative sales, and sales from the introduction of its value brand called Daily Special, its low-cost product introduced into the market last quarter.
The company said for the months of March and April, it has been the market leader in the important Ontario market, which has over 14 million people living there.
Although Ontario still only has 54 retail outlets to acquire pot from, and not all of them open at this time, it’s obvious that Aurora will be able to leverage its quality brands and production capacity into long-term growth as Ontario increases the number of retail stores by about five per month going forward.
Other positives were the company reiterated its commitment to cutting costs and expenditures, and expects to be EBITDA positive early in the next fiscal year.
It also remains the medical cannabis leader in Canada, and is winning back market share in Germany after a licensing issue was resolved in the last quarter.
The most important takeaway for me in the quarter was how Aurora was able to boost sales and cut costs in a very difficult market environment, and also after changing much of its management team.
Weighing the performance
It has to be understood that even though this was a good quarter for Aurora, and I believe it has turned the corner, it’ll still take time for it to accelerate growth because of challenges in Ontario in the near term, and uncertainty on the ongoing limitations as a result of COVID-19.
On the medical marijuana segment of its business in Canada, it did have a slightly smaller customer base than it had in the prior quarter, but that was probably from some customers using recreational pot instead of approved of medical cannabis.
With the strong performance of its value brand and the inevitable increase in stores in Ontario, the company should be able to take share away from the illegal market over time, further adding to its sales growth trajectory.
Being a market leader in Ontario means the company has the potential to take significant share in Canada in the months and years ahead because of its being easily the largest Canadian market as measured by population.
On the cost and investment side, I have no trouble believing the company has the will and ability to cut costs and expenditures to the point of rapidly moving toward positive EBITDA.
That and the company continuing to be a market leader in cost per gram, means it is positioning itself to be tough to compete against as the Canadian cannabis market starts to mature.
There was a lot to like about the latest earnings report of Aurora Cannabis, it is only the beginning of a big turnaround for the company, Much of the short term growth will be incremental rather than exponential, and once the smoke clears from the explosion of its share price, shareholder will have to adjust their expectations to a more modest growth trajectory.
The company will need to raise capital to fund its growth. With its visible growth strategy that is being executed very well, and nothing but improvement in the Canadian cannabis market in the short and long term, it looks to me like Aurora now has the worst behind it and is starting to walk with a swagger again, with the caveat it’s going to take time for growth to accelerate to exciting levels that will sustainably drive its share price up.
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