The marijuana industry is growing at an incredible rate, and investors have taken notice. Over the trailing year, a majority of the world's largest publicly traded pot stocks have doubled or tripled in value. With triple-digit sales growth expected for some of these marijuana stocks, investor expectations couldn't be higher.
One marijuana stock that's absolutely captivated the attention of investors is Aurora Cannabis (NYSE:ACB). Having emerged from Canopy Growth Corp.'s shadow, Aurora has been focused on both organically and inorganically growing its operations. By 2019 or 2020, it could be one of the top dried cannabis producers in Canada. As a reminder, Canada's parliament is currently reviewing legislation that could legalize recreational weed by July, making it the first developed country in the world to have legalized adult-use pot.
Five things you'll love about Aurora Cannabis's Q2 results
Of course, fundamentals still matter, even in the marijuana industry. Last week, Aurora Cannabis reported its fiscal second-quarter operating results (ended Dec. 31), with much of the forward-looking commentary and figures in its report pleasing shareholders. In no particular order, here are the five most impressive things in Aurora Cannabis' Q2 report.
1. CanniMed synergies
The first thing shareholders were probably happy to hear is that Aurora's expensive acquisition of CanniMed Therapeutics (OTC:CMMDF) is going to pay dividends. The $852 million deal, the most expensive marijuana buyout in history, is expected to add more than 20,000 new medical patients and roughly 19,000 kilograms in funded capacity. What might be overlooked is CanniMed's arrangement with national pharmacy chain PharmaChoice, which will now give Aurora Cannabis a broader network to distribute medicinal cannabis and reach more patients.
2. International sales are burgeoning
Though all eyes are focused on Canada and its expected legalization, an extremely exciting opportunity for a handful of Canadian growers, Aurora included, is the ability to export its dried cannabis or make investments in foreign growers or distributors. For instance, Germany recently legalized medical cannabis but has a nascent grow industry. Importation from Canada is a smart means for Germany to ensure it has the medical weed needed to satiate patient demand.
According to Aurora's Q2 operating results, the $2 million it sold in dried cannabis to Germany may not sound like much, but it was a 101% increase from the sequential first quarter. Even though the Canadian market remains the top prize, Aurora Cannabis has a rapidly growing revenue channel in international markets.
3. 270,000 kilograms of fully funded production
Don't fall out of your seat, but the latest production update from the company implies a maximum output of 270,000 kilograms of dried cannabis a year, once fully licensed. That could put Aurora at or very near the top of the cannabis totem pole in terms of production.
The company's flagship 800,000-square-foot Aurora Sky facility is expected to complete by mid-2018 and yield in excess of 100,000 kilograms annually. Meanwhile, the company's joint venture partnership with Alfred Pedersen & Son in Denmark has the 1 million-square-foot Aurora Nordic facility that's currently in development on pace to generate roughly 120,000 kilograms of dried cannabis per year. If the demand is there, Aurora will be in great shape to meet it.
4. Improved vertical integration
However, it's not just a matter of growing marijuana -- Aurora also needs to create channels that'll get its product to retailers and in front of customers as quickly as possible. The company appears to be getting far more aggressive with respect to expanding its sales channels.
As noted in its Q2 summary, the company acquired a 19.9% stake in Liquor Stores N.A., which will convert a number of its existing retail outlets into cannabis outlets. Since Liquor Stores already has experience operating a controlled substance, the investment and ability to get cannabis in front of the consumer was a no-brainer move for Aurora.
The company is also offering its Aurora Pro platform for wholesale business-to-business transactions.
5. $279 million in cash and cash equivalents
Lastly, but importantly, the company ended the quarter with nearly $279 million in cash and cash equivalents. Mind you, this doesn't count the $159 million in gross proceeds raised from the sale of convertible debentures on Jan. 11, 2018, or the $91 million in gross cash proceeds on Feb. 7 from the exercise of warrants and stock options. Aurora may easily have more than $500 million in cash and cash equivalents at the moment.
The importance of this cash is twofold. First, it ensures that the company's capacity and network expansion can be met without funding concerns. Second, it also signals that there's no shortage of appetite for investment into cannabis stocks.
Sorry, folks, but this statistic is the stuff nightmares are made of
Nevertheless, Aurora Cannabis' Q2 report wasn't perfect. For instance, if we take the company's gain from derivatives out of the equation, it lost $13.9 million from its ongoing operations through the first six months of fiscal 2018.
But this is far from the most terrifying statistic in Aurora's Q2 report. That goes to the company's updated outstanding share count figures, at least according to its Canadian-listed shares. As of Feb. 7, the company had 489.9 million shares outstanding, up almost 31% from the sequential first quarter, and over 2,900% higher since the end of fiscal 2014. Yes, the company is having no trouble raising capital, but it's diluting its shareholders a lot in the process.
What's more, this isn't anywhere near the end of dilution for investors of Aurora Cannabis. As of Feb. 7, it still had more than 23.2 million options outstanding, nearly 8.8 million warrants, 2.15 million restricted shares, and just over 428,000 convertible debentures. Mind you, these convertible debentures could add tens of millions of additional outstanding shares by themselves, if executed.
Though Aurora Cannabis does have a path to strong market share in Canada, it's also going to make it very challenging for its investors to benefit with such steady dilution to come.