Over the past couple of weeks, and arguably years, no industry has been hotter than marijuana. The North American Marijuana Index, which is comprised of growers, ancillary pot stocks, and cannabinoid-based drugmakers throughout North America, is up well over 600% since February 2016, and has gained close to 50% in just over three weeks.
Interestingly enough, this isn't just one or two big-name pot stocks driving this rally, but rather an across-the-board surge in marijuana stocks. A quick screen of 27 pot stocks with a market cap in excess of $200 million yielded 24 that rose by at least 11% in August! In total, seven really stood out, with gains ranging between 46% and 195%. Here are those standouts, in ascending order.
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Aphria: Up 46.8%
Aphria (NASDAQOTH: APHQF) had a double dose of news in August, with the company recording record quarterly revenue during its fiscal fourth quarter, with sales increasing 81% from Q4 2017, and the company also announcing mid-month that Ontario, Canada, had chosen it to be one of the 26 growers to supply the province with cannabis for online consumers. Supply deals are important since it'll mean less work for Aphria in terms of finding a buyer for its product.
Dealmaking was another key catalyst. Though Aphria has yet to snag a brand-name alcohol, tobacco, or pharmaceutical partner, it's currently on track to be the third-largest producer when fully ramped up at 255,000 kilograms of cannabis. That alone has been getting Aphria extra looks by pot stock investors.
CannTrust Holdings: Up 51.8%
Very similar to Aphria, CannTrust Holdings (NASDAQOTH: CNTTF) rose after announcing an expansive supply deal with Ontario that'll have it -- and a few other large growers -- supplying the province with dried cannabis flower and cannabis oils, post-legalization.
Additionally, CannTrust reported excellent progress on the earnings front, with its second-quarter operating results featuring a 99% increase in year-over-year sales, and aggregate net income totaling 11.5 million Canadian dollars through the first half of the year. Strong profitability was achieved as a result of 60% of its total sales being high-margin cannabis extracts.
Perhaps most important, the company's 1 million square feet of capacity expansion at its Niagara greenhouse facility remains on time, and on budget. CannTrust continues to look like one of the more reasonably priced pot stocks, based on forward P/E.
Emerald Health Therapeutics: Up 53.5%
The primary catalyst for British Columbia-based Emerald Health Therapeutics (NASDAQOTH: EMHTF) in August was the announcement that its joint venture Delta 3 project with Village Farms International, known as Pure Sunfarms, had received its cultivation license and, just weeks after receiving its license, expanded its authorized capacity to 420,000 square feet. When fully authorized, Pure Sunfarms should have 1.1 million square feet of capacity, yielding approximately 75,000 kilograms a year.
At the tail end of August, Emerald Health also reported its second-quarter results. While the top- and bottom-line figures were nothing to write home about, the simple fact that the company has been nibbling with acquisitions, has more than ample cash on hand, and remains on track with its capacity expansion appears to be fueling excitement.
Namaste Technologies: Up 53.8%
As for Namaste Technologies (NASDAQOTH: NXXTF), its nearly 54% surge in share price is tied to one announced partnership after another. For instance, on Aug. 22, Namaste and Cannvas MedTech announced the signing of a revenue-sharing partnership through the NamasteMD portal and Cannvas.me cannabis education platform.
Around the same time, it also came to a supply agreement with licensed Manitoba medical marijuana producer Bonify. Namaste will be working with Bonify to create private-label strains for medical and recreational consumers. It also doesn't hurt that NamasteMD has grown to over 14,000 registered online and mobile users, a 130% increase in two months' time. The more partnerships Namaste can land, the more valuable its niche online portal becomes.
Cronos Group: Up 63.3%
For Cronos Group (NASDAQ: CRON), which gained 63% last month, it's been a combination of three factors pushing its share price higher. First, there was the announcement that it had secured provincial supply agreements in Ontario and British Columbia, as well as dried cannabis, pre-rolls, and oils to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
Secondly, Cronos' stock popped following the release of its second-quarter operating results, which included a 428% year-over-year sales increase, a stronger cash position, and a very modest profit. Albeit, the only reason Cronos made money was due to a fair-value adjustment of its biological assets.
Lastly, there's been speculation that Cronos Group would land a big-name partner. This past week, the company announced a $122 million cash-and-stock partnerships with Ginkgo Bioworks to extract rare cannabinoids from the cannabis plant at commercial scale.
Canopy Growth Corp: Up 73.6%
While there were undoubtedly other catalysts, such as Canopy Growth Corp (NYSE: CGC) announcing supply deals with numerous Canadian provinces, the biggest boost by far came from the announcement on Aug. 15 that Constellation Brands was taking a $3.8 billion equity stake in the company. This equity stake came at a 51% premium to Canopy Growth's Aug. 14 closing price.
Constellation, the producer of the Corona and Modelo beer brands, envisions working side by side with Canopy to create new products and bring these products to new markets around the world. This actually marked the company's third such investment in Canopy Growth, with Constellation taking a 9.9% equity stake in October 2017, and then gobbling up a third of its CA$600 million convertible note offering in June. Along with the 139.7 million warrants to be issued, pending regulatory approval, Constellation could increase its stake in Canopy to above 50%.
Tilray: Up 195%
However, the real winner of the bunch was the recently public Tilray (NASDAQ: TLRY), which rose an eye-popping 195% in August. Part of this monumental increase likely follows the company's second-quarter earnings release. Tilray's quarterly report highlighted a 95% year-over-year increase in revenue, expansion to 11 countries, and multiple supply agreements within Canada.
But let's be clear: This rally is mostly about the expectation of a brand-name partnership. Tilray has the potential to be a top-five grower when at peak capacity, it has more than adequate capital to continue expanding its grow space and to build out its international infrastructure, and it was one of the first medical marijuana growers to be licensed in Canada. In sum, it's a well-known name that should draw interest from alcohol, tobacco, and/or pharmaceutical companies.
Whether Tilray's magical run can continue beyond August is a completely different story.
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