Cannabis stocks in the U.S. and Canada rise after bloody year
After a brutal year for cannabis investors, weed stocks on Tuesday rebounded in the final trading session of 2019.
Exchange-traded funds that track cannabis companies jumped more than 5% in Tuesday trading. The Horizons Marjiuana Life Sciences Index ETF HMMJ, +7.10% gained 7.1%, the ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF MJ, +5.61% rose 5.6% and the Cannabis ETF THCX, +5.93% rose 5.9% — reflecting gains in U.S. and Canadian weed companies.
Those gains could not come close to making up for the rest of what was a bloody year for pot stocks, however. Reflecting broad investor disappointment in the performances of Canadian and U.S. cannabis companies, the Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF lost 43% of its value during the year, while the ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF fell 35%. In the past three months, the Cannabis ETF, which launched midyear, fell 28%.
The sector went into the year with a valuation fattened by the promise of billions of dollars in weed sales in Canada and abroad. What occurred in 2019 was a disappointment to investors, who took dollar after dollar away from weed companies after problems that ranged from illegal activity to over-promised expectations from earnings.
What remains the world’s largest cannabis company by market capitalization, Canopy Growth Corp. CGC, +12.24% WEED, +11.42% rose 12.2% Tuesday. Earlier this month, Canopy Growth installed former Constellation Brands Inc. STZ, +0.73% Chief Financial Officer David Klein to the CEO job, replacing interim Chief Executive Mark Zekulin. The Corona beer maker has invested $4 billion in Canopy Growth and is the company’s largest shareholder.
Canadian rival Aurora Cannabis Inc. ACB, +13.09% ACB, +12.05% rose 13.1% in Tuesday trading, days after the company said it had asked former Chief Corporate Officer Cam Battley to step down from the job. Jefferies downgraded the stock to hold from buy after the news. “It is clear to us that the market is lacking conviction in Aurora, and this update will do little to help that,” Jefferies analyst Owen Bennett wrote in a note to clients as he lowered his stock price target to C$3.00 ($2.28) from C$7.00.
In a blog post Monday, former Aurora director of business development Brayden Sutton made the case that early entrepreneurs such as Canopy Growth’s charismatic former co-CEO Bruce Linton and salesmen like Battley are no longer relevant in cannabis.
“There’s no place for Cam’s [sic] or Bruce’s [sic] out there anymore — the market needs innovators and operators. It needs more students of Buffett and Graham. Hype paves the way but it fades out every time to make way for reality.”
Many of the largest U.S. weed producers posted gains as well. Curaleaf Holdings Inc. CURA, +5.96% CURLF, +6.59% , one of the largest retailers, rose 6.6%, Green Thumb Industries Inc. GTII, +4.58% GTBIF, +3.85% gained 3.9% and Cresco Labs Inc. CRLBF, +3.75% CL, +3.00% posted a 3.8% gain. Acreage Holdings Inc. ACRGF, +8.55% gained 8.6%. Cannabidiol, or CBD, product maker Charlotte’s Web Holdings Inc. CWEB, +2.79% CWBHF, +3.52% gained 3.5%.
One significant exception to the downward trend of 2019 was Innovative Industrial Properties Inc. IIPR, +3.31% , the New York Stock Exchange-listed marijuana real-estate investment trust. Quietly posting modest profits over the year and paying out a dividend, IIPR stock has gained just over 70% since the beginning of the year. The company’s stock gained 3.3% in Tuesday’s session.
Embattled California-based retailer MedMen Enterprises Inc. MMEN, +22.81% MMNFF, +21.39% rose 21% in Tuesday trading. Over the year, the company faced lawsuits from former employees, canceled an acquisition, announced significant layoffs as well as the departure of several high-profile executives.
Companies that service the cannabis industry but do not produce products derived from the plant also did well Tuesday. Distributor Greenlane Holdings Inc. GNLN, +3.99% rose 4% and package producer KushCo Holdings Inc. KSHB, +9.33% rose 9.3%.