Aphria (NYSE: APHA) is on a roll. After a horrible performance in 2018, the Canadian marijuana stock is up nearly 80% so far this year.
With Aphria's tremendous momentum, it only makes sense that some investors who might have been leery of the stock in the past are taking a closer look. If you're looking to potentially buy shares of Aphria, here are five things you should know first.
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1. Top-tier production capacity
Probably the most important thing to know about Aphria is that the company has one of the largest fully funded production capacities in the cannabis industry. Aphria is on track to produce 255,000 kilograms of cannabis per year, ranking it behind only Aurora Cannabis and Canopy Growth.
Keep in mind, though, that Aphria's capacity is much smaller for now. Until recently, the company could only produce around 35,000 kilograms annually. However, Health Canada approved licensing for the Aphria One facility expansion earlier this month. This boosts Aphria's total annual production capacity to 115,000 kilograms.
2. A solid strategy for the Canadian recreational pot market
The most significant immediate opportunity for Aphria is the Canadian recreational marijuana market. Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics project this market could grow to $5.5 billion by 2022. Aphria appears to have a solid strategy for carving out a nice share of this market.
Aphria's production capacity is a key factor in becoming a winner. The company also secured supply agreements with all 10 Canadian provinces plus the Yukon Territory. In addition, Aphria is partnering with Southern Glazer's, the largest wine and spirits distributor in North America, to distribute its recreational cannabis products throughout Canada.
3. Strong international presence
Canada isn't the biggest growth market for Aphria, though. International medical marijuana markets will be more important to the company over the long run. The good news is that Aphria already has a strong international presence.
Aphria's acquisition of Nuuvera last year gave it a supply deal with CC Pharma, which distributes products to more than 13,000 pharmacies in Germany. Aphria liked CC Pharma so much that it bought the company in a deal that closed a couple of months ago. In addition to its German operations, Aphria also has joint ventures or subsidiaries in Australia, Italy, Malta, Lesotho, and South America.
4. A potential acquisition candidate
You should also know that Aphria has been the target of a hostile takeover attempt. The company's board of directors rejected the overture of U.S.-based cannabis producer Green Growth Brands (GGB). It's unlikely that many Aphria shareholders will tender their shares to GGB. However, don't discount the possibility that another player won't be interested in Aphria.
Aphria's large-scale production facilities could make it a tempting target for another marijuana producer seeking to quickly boost its capacity. It also wouldn't be surprising if a major company outside of the cannabis industry invested in Aphria.
5. Moving past its past
One reason why Aphria stock has underperformed many of its peers is that the company has been embroiled in several controversies in the past. Aphria caught a lot of flak with its acquisition of Nuuvera because top members of Aphria's executive team didn't disclose their personal stakes in Nuuvera until the day before the deal closed. In December, short-sellers alleged that Aphria drastically overpaid for its LATAM Holdings acquisition in a transaction that profited key Aphria insiders.
But Aphria appears to be moving past its past. Vic Neufeld stepped down as CEO. Interim CEO Irwin Simon has a solid track record outside of the cannabis industry. New governance processes are in place. Aphria has more independent members on its board. The prospects of the company becoming mired in more controversies seem to be much lower than before.
Is Aphria a smart pick?
Aphria isn't a stock that every investor would want to consider buying. Its valuation reflects tremendous expectations for future growth that might not materialize.
But Aphria could be right up the alley for aggressive investors. Global marijuana markets will almost certainly expand significantly in the future. Aphria has the production capacity and the operations to compete in those markets. It's arguably in better shape than ever to attract a major partner. Aphria's current momentum just might keep on rolling for a long time to come.
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