Jefferies analyst Owen Bennett has released a very valuable report concerning cannabis stocks. What’s interesting is that he distinguishes between the stocks that will be dominating the market in five years’ time, and the stocks where investors can find the best value right now.
“On a five-year view we continue to believe that Canopy (CGC) and Aurora (ACB) will be the global leaders,” Bennett told investors. However, on a 12 months basis, the analyst believes two smaller Canadian producers, The Green Organic Dutchman (TGODF) and CannTrust (CTST), currently offer the best value for investors.
Let’s take a closer look at how these four stocks measure up now:
Despite his confidence in Canopy’s leadership position, Bennett nonetheless has a ‘Hold’ rating on the world’s largest cannabis company. He ascribes this rating to CGC’s current high valuation. However, if it comes to picking between Canopy and Aurora, the analyst is clear which stock he prefers:
“Since initiation, we have argued that Canopy, along with Aurora, is best placed to dominate on a global basis in the years ahead. The Acreage deal further supports this view, giving Canopy a route to participation in the world’s largest market, and, for us, now gives Canopy a notable advantage over Aurora in terms of its long term outlook” writes Bennett.
Canopy recently announced a $3.4 billion acquisition of New York-based marijuana stock Acreage Holdings. The deal would go through as soon as cannabis has been fully legalized in the US. And with this in mind, the analyst ramps up his price target from C$64 to $C77 (17% upside potential). On the back of this deal, Canopy is now the only name in the analyst’s coverage which captures US (psychoactive) cannabis exposure in the price target.
He continues: “Despite Canopy’s strong global positioning, and the additional value creation to potentially come via the Acreage deal, we think this is appropriately reflected in the current price, the stock up >20% since the Acreage news broke (and 80% YTD). As such we maintain our Hold rating.”
However it is worth noting that the Acreage deal, although agreed by the two companies, still requires shareholder consent. And activist investor Marcato Capital is fighting the proposed takeover, arguing that the company is worth much more than the agreed $3.4 billion. Marcato owns a 2.7% stake in Acreage.
“We believe Acreage’s strategic value, as one of the few multi-state operators of scale in the U.S., with leading positions in the most valuable markets merits a significant premium to any stand-alone cash-flow derived valuation,” Marcato Capital wrote in an open letter to the board. “Furthermore, we believe enterprise values of cannabis companies will skyrocket upon the relaxation of current Federal restrictions.
“Accordingly, Marcato believes it is highly imprudent for Acreage to sell itself today at the proposed valuation, with so much unlocked growth and value embedded in the company.” Shareholders will vote on the deal on June 19.
Overall, the marijuana grower boasts a cautiously optimistic Moderate Buy analyst consensus. That’s with an average analyst price target of $60 (22% upside potential). We can also see that under the Canadian ticker, the average analyst share price works out at C$76.88. (See CGC’s price targets and analyst ratings on TipRanks)
Bennett has a more bullish Buy rating on Canadian cannabis producer Aurora. “Despite a recent good run (up 75% YTD and 29% since late February), we still believe Aurora’s current valuation looks compelling relative to true global peers” explains Bennett.
“We believe Aurora, along with Canopy, is best placed to dominate globally in the years ahead, yet the story is less appreciated. With infrastructure in place to strongly accelerate near-term Canadian sales as derivative products come on line, and US optionality to become more visible, we see further upside on a 12-month view. Shareholder dilution has been a risk in the past but we’d like to think this will now be more limited” he writes.
Indeed, Bennett also boosted his Aurora price target from C$12 to C$14 (17% upside potential). Support for the move comes from multiple directions, including the recent $175 million transaction for premium cannabis producer Whistler, securing the maximum numbers of lots from the German domestic cultivation tender process, and appointing prominent activist consumer goods investor Nelson Peltz as a strategic advisor.
Overall, we can see from TipRanks that Aurora also scores a ‘Moderate Buy’ consensus from the Street. That comes with an average analyst price target of C$13.80 (15% upside potential). (See ACB’s price targets and analyst ratings on TipRanks)
Now let’s move from two of the market’s biggest players to two smaller cannabis stocks that could make for savvy short-term investing opportunities. As Bennett writes: “We continue to see very good value at CannTrust and TGOD”:
Green Organic Dutchman
Green Organic is positioning itself to be the dominant player in the very attractive organic segment. Through its subsidiaries, the company produces farm grown and organic cannabis for medical use worldwide. Although a relatively new player, with an IPO in May 2018, the company has put in place all the tools to succeed.
“We remain bullish on TGOD and continue to believe it is set up well to succeed” writes Bennett. “If you had to write a business plan entering the cannabis space late as they have done, then TGOD’s approach would tick many of the boxes.” Namely: 1) hiring a management team with over 125 years of consumer goods experience; 2) operating in a relatively uncluttered segment (organic) that can command higher price points; and 3) access to robust capacity (enough to support the organic segment).
Plus TGOD has also invested ahead in strong derivative infrastructure (i.e. announcing construction of a beverage focused division in June 2018); and invested internationally, for example with the acquisition of HemPoland in the hemp-based CBD space (distribution across 700 locations and 13 countries).
However given that it only started shipping at the end of 1Q19, TGOD needs to execute into the rest of the year. “With potential issues with its Hamilton facility now resolved, we see no reason to believe that it won’t. If it does then we see strong upside from here.” But- word of warning- this is a stock for the brave. Because if TGDO doesn’t pull through with strong upward momentum on sales across the quarters a sharp selloff is likely.
Nonetheless Bennett is feeling confident. He has just increased his price target to C$6.50 from C$6.10 previously. Given the stock is currently trading at just $4.34 this suggests shares can surge by 50% in the coming months. Encouragingly, the Street echoes this optimistic sentiment. TGOD scores a Strong Buy Street consensus with an average analyst price target of C$7.18. (See TGOD’s price targets and analyst ratings on TipRanks)
If you haven’t heard of CannTrust Holdings before, listen up. This is a pharmaceutical company that develops and produces medical cannabis for healthcare sectors in Canada.
“We think [CannTrust] can be up there with the top global players, yet its multiple is a fraction of global peers” enthuses the Jefferies analyst. He has a C$13 price target on TRST stock (62% upside potential).
He believes the company is a very smart, consistent operator with an excellent outlook. “It is one of the strongest medical businesses in Canada, has been performing very well in early rec, is positioned well to capitalise in derivatives (as well as pet care), and has made some shrewd moves internationally (Pharma partnership, European regional operations, US optionality)” explains the analyst.
Yet despite the attractive outlook, recent performance has been notably poor (down 30% since Q4 results), with the market reacting to the soft gross margin and negative EBITDA in 4Q. According to Bennett, this is unfair, as management has simply decided to invest for long-term gain rather than short-term profitability by, for example, securing a low cost supply of cannabis for extraction into derivative products and and list on the NYSE.
Moreover, in pre-releasing 1Q expectations recently the company moved to reassure investors when it said gross profit margins would return to between 42%-46% (from 35%).
Bottom line: “If CannTrust delivers as we expect it to then its valuation looks very appealing at current levels.” This is reflected by the stock’s Moderate Buy analyst consensus and robust average analyst price target. On the Toronto exchange the C$14 price target suggests 75% upside potential; on NYSE the $12.38 figure is 107% above current price levels.
To read more on the nitty gritty of what’s going on in the rising cannabis industry, click here.