Yes, it's been a crazy year so far for Tilray (TLRY) since its initial public offering (IPO) in July. Huge swings both up and down for the Canadian marijuana stock are a common occurrence. A lot of the wild gyrations in Tilray's share price had little or nothing to do with the company's actual business.

However, on Tuesday, investors received a reminder that Tilray is still a business and not just a stock to trade. The company announced its third-quarter financial results after the market closed.

Some might focus on Tilray's year-over-year revenue increase of nearly 86%, or its net loss. The critically important thing for investors to note in Tilray's Q3 update, though, was said by the company's CEO, Brendan Kennedy, in just 11 words.

Man with hand cupped behind ear

Image source: Getty Images.

11 words to remember

What did Brendan Kennedy say that was so important? Here are the critical 11 words: "We are in the early stages of achieving our growth potential." Everything else in Tilray's Q3 update should be viewed with this in mind.

The reality is that $10 million in revenue during the quarter is chump change. How that figure compares to the prior-year period or the previous quarter is basically meaningless when you think about just how early Tilray really is in its journey.

Tilray's net loss of $18.7 million, or $0.20 per share, was also meaningless. It only made sense that Tilray would ramp up spending dramatically in anticipation of the opening of the Canadian recreational marijuana market in October. And that's exactly what the company did, resulting in the loss.

To be frank, it's a waste of time to dwell on the minute details in Tilray's Q3 results given that the company is in such an early stage. This time next year -- if not much sooner -- no one will care about Tilray's average selling price per gram or adjusted EBITDA from the third quarter.  

Signs of progress

Was there anything in Tilray's update that was worthy of attention other than Brandon Kennedy's statement? Sure. And they were all things related to the progress the company made in the third quarter toward achieving the growth potential that Kennedy talked about.

One key achievement was Tilray's supply agreements for the Canadian recreational marijuana market. The company has secured supply agreements with eight provinces and territories: British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, the Yukon Territory, the Northwest Territories, and Prince Edward Island. Some of these deals were made outside of Q3, but Tilray certainly made significant progress in the quarter.

Probably even more far-reaching, though, were Tilray's steps in expanding internationally. Granted, some of those were baby steps. For example, the company received approval to supply medical cannabis to a clinical study being conducted in the U.S. Tilray also shipped cannabidiol (CBD) oil to the United Kingdom. However, there were big symbolic wins.

Other achievements were more than just symbolic, though. Tilray became the first marijuana producer to gain approval in Germany for supplying both cannabis flower and oils. This was important, considering that Germany is the largest marijuana market outside of North America.

Tilray also made a major move shortly after the end of the third quarter. On Oct. 9, the company announced its acquisition of Chilean Alef Biotechnology. This deal gives Tilray a bigger launching pad for the Latin American marijuana market.

A long way to go

Of the 11 critical words spoken by Brendan Kennedy, the two most important ones were "potential" and "early." Kennedy often mentions the $150 billion global marijuana market. He's not the only person who thinks the market potential is that large, but the actual addressable market isn't anywhere close to that level yet.

That $150 billion figure includes illegal marijuana sales across the world. A big percentage of these sales are for the recreational use of marijuana. As of now, only Canada and Uruguay have legalized recreational marijuana at the federal level. Mexico might not be far behind, but there's still some uncertainty as to what will happen in the country after its Supreme Court overturned a national ban on recreational marijuana use.

The recent U.S. elections provided some reasons to be optimistic about the possibility for changes in federal laws that might allow Tilray and its peers to expand into the U.S. For now, though, this remains only a possibility.

Still, Brendan Kennedy was exactly right. Tilray really is only in the early stages of achieving its growth potential. And that growth potential could be greater than many think it will be. But the amount of time it will take to achieve that potential could also be greater than many expect.