The marijuana industry could grow massively in the next few years and decades, or it could stop dead in its tracks, all depending on legislation.
In this clip from the Industry Focus podcast, Motley Fool analysts Sean O'Reilly and Taylor Muckerman talk about one fertilizer company that long-term investors might want to look at for some exposure to the industry's potential, without taking on the full risk of a pure-play marijuana company.
A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on May 4, 2017.
Sean O'Reilly: Everybody's favorite fertilizer company, Scotts Miracle-Gro (NYSE:SMG). It's not direct, but they're getting in on the marijuana business, Taylor? A little bit?
Taylor Muckerman: Apparently, we're not allowed to talk about the marijuana business, because that's for healthcare.
O'Reilly: We have a solution here. Are you ready?
Muckerman: We'll talk about fertilizer, not medical cannabis. So, yeah, for the last couple years, there's been rumblings of this company wanting to access the marijuana market, and as states continue to --
O'Reilly: It's legal here in D.C.
Muckerman: Yeah, you can grow plants in your house if you live in Washington, D.C., and several other states. Scott's Miracle-Gro is a company that the common men and women can access at the hardware store, and they've been ramping up spending on the hydroponics side of their business.
O'Reilly: This is a big number. Did you see this?
Muckerman: They're seeing great results, yeah.
O'Reilly: They have a subsidiary called Hawthorne, and one of the most popular ways to grow cannabis is with hydroponics, which is the method of growing plants without soil using mineral nutrient solutions and water solvent. I actually pictured the little packets they give you when you buy flowers for your wife.
Muckerman: Yeah, there's just a tray where the roots descend into the water, and the plant remains above board.
O'Reilly: Yeah. This subsidiary, Scotts Miracle-Gro has invested $500 million to build this out. That's not chump change.
Muckerman: It's not small, especially when you consider, in the second quarter, they had $1.2 billion in sales. That's a hefty investment. But they do see that this Hawthorne Gardening Company could be a $1 billion revenue generator for them in the not-so-distant future, if the status quo remains or continues to spread throughout the country. This is, potentially, a way for investors to invest in the marijuana market without investing in a marijuana company. If regulations get pulled back, the federal government steps in, you still have Scott's Miracle-Gro. You still have the base; it's just a different optionality.
O'Reilly: I have to think, even beyond marijuana, hydroponics, it seems like if they get better and better at offering easy to use products, that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Muckerman: Yeah, it could expand the urban-gardening movement; it could shrink the size of farms.
O'Reilly: Build up.
Muckerman: Yeah, you see a lot of these private companies building greenhouses out of cargo shipping containers, like you said, building up, they're stacking plants on top of each other. That could be something you see here, and removes the need for soil. This investment could do well outside of the marijuana industry here in the United States.