Let's cut to the chase. Yes, Aurora Cannabis (NYSE:ACB) could be a millionaire-maker stock. Given a large enough initial investment and enough time, many stocks -- including Aurora -- could generate returns of $1 million or more.
The real question, though, is whether an investor buying a reasonable stake in Aurora Cannabis has a realistic chance of becoming a millionaire from this initial investment over a period of time that's not ridiculously long. For example, could a $10,000 initial investment in Aurora turn into $1 million within 25 years?
Few stocks can achieve such a feat. To pull it off would require a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of a little over 20%. Could Aurora Cannabis deliver this level of growth?
What it would take
To become a millionaire-maker stock, Aurora Cannabis would need to grow its market cap from around $6 billion today to $600 billion. The marijuana producer would probably have to generate annual revenue in the ballpark of $125 billion to justify that kind of market cap.
Is it possible that Aurora Cannabis could make $125 billion annually in the future? Assuming the company continues to focus on the cannabis industry, the answer depends on just how big the global marijuana market will be.
Aurora itself says that the total global cannabis opportunity is around 200 billion in Canadian dollars, or roughly $150 billion. That's in line with what other marijuana executives state publicly as well.
However, the figure only includes medical and recreational use of marijuana. There are several other markets that could be disrupted by cannabis producers, including alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and pharmaceuticals. Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton thinks all of these potential markets that could be disrupted total $500 billion in annual sales.
Let's assume that Linton is right. If so, Aurora Cannabis would need to capture around 25% of the total global opportunity. That isn't a totally outlandish proposition. Aurora claimed a market share of around 30% in Ontario soon after the Canadian recreational marijuana market opened. Ontario is Canada's largest province and is a very competitive market.
Why it's not likely
You might have noticed a lot of "ifs" in what it would take for Aurora to be a millionaire-maker stock. Let's add another one: If any of those assumptions fall through, Aurora won't make anyone a millionaire.
First of all, the $150 billion global marijuana figure that gets thrown around assumes that recreational cannabis will be legalized in the U.S. and throughout Europe. No European country has legalized recreational marijuana at this point. And while 10 U.S. states have legalized recreational pot, it remains illegal at the federal level. Maybe all of that could change in 25 years. However, there's certainly no guarantee that it will.
An even higher hurdle to jump is achieving such a disruption in other markets that it would amount to $500 billion in total annual sales. Aurora Cannabis points to the potential in disrupting other markets, but the company wisely doesn't attempt to project the dollar value of the opportunity.
It's also highly doubtful that Aurora Cannabis would attain a 25% global market share. Consider in Constellation Brands' decision to make a major investment in Canopy Growth, the big alcoholic beverage maker estimated that Canopy could realistically capture no more than 15% of the global market outside of Canada. I don't see Aurora topping Canopy Growth by a significant margin.
Remember also that increasing market cap doesn't always translate to solid returns for investors. Last year, for example, Aurora's market cap soared nearly 60%. Was it a great year for Aurora shareholders? Nope. The stock plunged 35% because the company's repeated bought deal financing transactions issued so many new shares that they diluted the value of existing shares.
No need to swing for the fences
Don't count on Aurora Cannabis making you a millionaire. It's just not very likely to happen.
But the global marijuana market is big. Aurora's production capacity and international distribution channels should enable the company to be a major player in the market for a long time to come. Like in baseball, you don't have to swing for the fences to be a winner in investing. While Aurora Cannabis might not give you a home run, it could at least provide a single or double.
To continue the baseball metaphor, though, it's also smart to choose carefully which pitches you take a swing at. I think there are even better marijuana stocks to swing at than Aurora Cannabis. They probably won't make you a marijuana millionaire, either. But they could make you richer than you are now.