The CannaTech conference, one of the most prestigious events for cannabis, kicked off its 4th year on Sunday in Tel Aviv, and drew 1,000 participants from 45 countries.
Upbeat and well-spoken, Aurora Cannabis’ (ACB) Chief Corporate Officer (CCO) Cam Battley shook hands and smiled with a slew of guests from the conference after he delivered his presentation about his beloved company to the crowd. It was all just a taste in comparison to the long-form Q&A I had with the chief following his stage time.
Battley has worked in the global biopharma industry until five years ago when he got started working in cannabis. Today he is still on multiple boards of mental health, Osteoporosis, and cancer-patient advocacy groups and has taken part of organizations like these for 25 years.
“By the end of next year, [Aurora Cannabis] will have 500,000+ [kg]. There are only two companies in the world that are on a pace to produce 500,000+ kilograms a year and it’s us and Canopy [Growth] (CGC) and the sheer speed of growth is enormous. A little more than a year ago today we had a capacity of 5,000 kilograms per year at our first facility north of Calgary. By now, we’re at about 150,000 kilograms here and we’re headed for 500,000,” Battley said. “Simply take 500,000 kilograms or 500-million grams and put whatever per-gram equivalent price you think is fair over both dried flower and derivative products and that’ll give you a good idea as to where our top-line revenues are going to be by the end of 2020/beginning of 2021. It’s really quite astonishing. And we also believe that we can have sustained EBIDTA of 40%. So that’s based on calculation and recalculation by our CFO Glenn Ibbot, who I think is the best in the business.”
“In January, we put out guidance that indicated that we have substantially achieved the assets and the capabilities that we need in Canada. So the M&A will be slowing down and we’re focusing now on international expansion/ opening up in new markets. But the other thing that I indicated is that we are anticipating achieving positive Ebitda in the second calendar quarter of this year – so in this current quarter. And that will be significant news for this industry and I think it’s part of the reason why you’ve seen such a rapid rebound in our stock in 2019.”
Battley says higher ups in the company are watching the U.S. very closely to see what happens on a federal level. “The instant cannabis is federally permissible in the U.S. and our exchanges — the NYSE and the Toronto Stock Exchange allow us, we’ll be in that market. In fact, we already are through our spin off, Australis.”
Battley described Australis as a dividend company listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange which operates out of Nevada. The business is currently assembling assets and capabilities all throughout the U.S. in anticipation of the legislative change.
“As soon as cannabis becomes federally permissible, we will be able to reacquire 40 percent of that company,” Battley explained. “We’re very very interested in the U.S. The U.S. and Europe will always be the largest markets for cannabis both for medical and consumer. And it’s our intention to be there in a very, very big way.”
Battley says what makes Aurora unique is the amount of time and money spent on the growing facilities. While many companies retrofit old grow houses that were once created for produce like tomatoes or cucumbers, Aurora has used automation and robots to grow the cannabis in its own special place, which was built with cannabis in mind. “The whole idea from the beginning was to create the perfect growing environment for cannabis so if cannabis could talk and tell you what it wanted, it would say – ‘create that perfect spa environment for me’.”
The operation is not a greenhouse, rather 34,000 square feet of growing space with glass ceilings located at the Edmonton International Airport in Alberta, Canada. The space is designed to keep pests and disease out, which protects the company from losing crops, and thus, losing dollars.
ACB currently has 40 clinical trials underway and is planning to expand the program around the world. Some of the trials will mirror pharmaceutical industry trials and as a result, Battley believes that the company is getting ready to fight for intellectual property protection. New developments include edible “sublingual wafers” that have a rapid onset action, which will launch when new consumer regulations (phase 2) kick in in Canada, which is expected to be no later than October 17th, 2019 (marking one year after Canada became fully legalized.) In addition to the wafers, Battley says vape tents and edibles like chocolates, mints and infused beverages are next in line for production.
“This industry in a very short number of years will be bigger globally than brewing. […] It’s the variety; the breadth of experience is available to consumers so as a consumer of cannabis compared to alcohol there’s only one neurological effect from alcohol — whether it’s beer, wine or liquor. But depending on permutations and combinations of cannabinoids and terpines, cannabis can deliver an incredibly wide range of different experiences from uplifting and social — to slightly sedated and focused for a night of binge-watching Walking Dead.”
To read more on the nitty gritty of what’s going on in the rising cannabis industry, click here.
Editor’s note: Aurora recently notified regulators in both Canada and the U.S. the company is considering selling up to $750 million dollars in newly issued common stock as needed over time. If all the shares are sold off, the stock will suffer from dilution.
Disclosure: Smarter Analyst and the author have no business relationship with Aurora. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only.
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