Consumer Products

Why Marijuana Stocks Posted Big November Gains -- and Could Keep Rising

As marijuana stocks go, OrganiGram Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: OGI) is a relatively small player. With a market cap of around $303 million, OrganiGram is about one-fifteenth the size of Green Thumb Industries, a Toronto-traded firm with a market cap of around $4.53 billion.

OrganiGram, which reported fiscal fourth-quarter results Monday morning, posted a 25% year-over-year increase in net revenue (excluding excise taxes) and a net loss of $38.6 million, 72% larger than the year-ago loss. Cost of sales rose 87% year over year, and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization declined by 63%, from $7.2 million a year ago to $2.7 million.

Following the report, OrganiGram stock traded up about 0.4% early Monday at $1.34. That is the same as the closing price on November 3, the day of the U.S. elections.

While OrganiGram has traded flat, other Canada-based marijuana stocks posted gains of between 28% and 113% since November 3. After sagging by as much as 10% on the day after the election, on the second day after the election shares of the larger marijuana stocks jumped.

Aurora Cannabis Inc. (NYSE: ACB) reached a post-election peak of up nearly 130% on November 9. Aphria Inc. (NASDAQ: APHA) traded up almost 55%, Canopy Growth Corp. (NYSE: CGC) traded up nearly 42% and Cronos Group Inc. (NASDAQ: CRON) added just over 40% by the same date. OrganiGram traded up nearly 20% at the time.

Even including those big gains, as of last Friday, none of these companies has managed to boost its stock price above its level in September 2018 or September 2019. That’s a mighty long losing streak. Tilray Inc. (NASDAQ: TLRY) is down 89%, Aurora Cannabis is down 87%, OrganiGram is down nearly 74%, Canopy Growth is down almost 45% and Cronos is down 24%. It’s going to take a lot of months like November to push cannabis stocks higher.

What appears to be helping drive the stocks up is not so much the results of the presidential election. Although President-elect Joe Biden is expected to be friendlier to marijuana industry than Donald Trump, no president can sign an executive order removing marijuana from its Schedule I listing as a dangerous drug under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act.

Voters in two large states (New Jersey and Arizona) with a combined population of more than 16 million have approved sales of recreational marijuana, as did voters in Montana and South Dakota, with a combined population of around 1.9 million. New Jersey officials estimate that retail sales of recreational marijuana will add $125 million annually to the state’s coffers.

But the hinge pin is New York, with nearly 14.5 million people. Bordering as it does on New Jersey to the south, New York’s state politicians are not going to want to cede millions of dollars in potential tax revenues to its neighbor. For that matter, Pennsylvania’s state legislature is unlikely to sit still while many of its 12.8 million people cross the Delaware River for their marijuana stashes.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo already has put a stake in the ground by declaring that the state will need more revenue to overcome the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and that legalizing recreational cannabis is low-hanging fruit.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said in October that “Pennsylvania tax money will be going to New Jersey” when New Jersey legalizes recreational pot and Pennsylvania doesn’t. Medical marijuana sales have surpassed $1 billion in sales since Pennsylvania launched its medical marijuana program two years ago.

Investors in marijuana stocks are betting that these two large states will legalize recreational sales by legislative action rather than waiting for the next election cycle in 2022. Both New York and Pennsylvania will hold gubernatorial elections that year as well, so political points, as well as revenues, are at stake. The stars are lining up for legalization.

Monday’s big gainer among marijuana stocks is Sundial Growers Inc. (NASDAQ: SNDL), which has eliminated its senior secured second-lien notes valued at C$73.2 million. The conversion raised its common stock outstanding from around 427 million shares to 744 million and created an unrestricted cash balance of C$85 million.

Aphria shares had added about 5.2% as of late Monday morning, to trade at $8.13 in a 52-week range of $1.95 to $8.67.

Aurora Cannabis added about 2%, to trade at $10.68 in a 52-week range of $3.71 to $32.88.

Tilray traded up about 0.5%, at $8.55 in a 52-week range of $2.43 to $22.95.

Cronos traded down about 0.5%, at $8.43 in a 52-week range of $4.00 to $9.00.

Canopy Growth traded down about 2% to $28.43, in a 52-week range of $9.00 to $29.39.