Shares of Aphria (NYSE:APHA) jumped 9.5% higher as of 3:25 p.m. EST on Friday, after rising as much as 14.8% earlier in the day. This marked the Canadian marijuana stock's second consecutive day of solid gains.
One potential factor behind Aphria's sustained momentum was yesterday's news about Green Growth Brands (NASDAQOTH:GGBXF) potentially considering revising its offer price in its hostile takeover attempt of Aphria. Another possible catalyst was Aphria's announcement on Friday that it's introducing its first cannabis strains to be produced in Europe. The company said it completed the transfer of four cannabis strains to its partner, Denmark-based Schroll Medical.
Interestingly, Aphria's nice gain on Friday came in spite of a tweet from short-seller Citron Research that it was "taking profits" on Aphria stock.
Green Growth Brands' offer actually values Aphria at less than the stock's current price. The possibility that the price could go up is good news. However, as of now, no revised offer from Green Growth has been announced, and Aphria's board doesn't appear to be excited in the least about being acquired by the U.S. cannabis producer.
Aphria's transfer of cannabis strains to Schroll isn't all that big a development on its own merit. The company announced in September 2018 that the first product was expected in early 2019. At this point, the financial impact on Aphria will be minimal.
However, both of these stories are important for one key reason: They change the tone about Aphria from negative to positive. Aphria has been beaten down over the last few months, as it faced allegations from short-sellers that it significantly overpaid for the acquisition of LATAM Holdings in a deal that profited key Aphria insiders. But headlines about a potential buyer possibly willing to pay more for Aphria, and progress in Europe, remind investors that Aphria still has a lot going for it.
But what about that Citron Research tweet about profit-taking? You might think that would be bad news for Aphria. It's possible, though, that investors considered Citron's track record with marijuana stocks. The short-seller bashed Cronos Group on Aug. 30, 2018; since then, Cronos' share price has skyrocketed nearly 130%. Citron also praised Pyxus International in early October 2018, tweeting that "the stock could double" -- and Pyxus' share price is down over 60% since then.
Aphria's board of directors is reviewing the Green Growth Brands offer. Unless the price tag goes up substantially, this deal isn't likely to go anywhere. However, there's a real possibility that others could be interested in buying all or part of Aphria.
Even if not, the company should enjoy strong revenue growth as the Canadian recreational-marijuana market picks up momentum in 2019. Aphria's international expansions should begin to pay off as well. The stock could remain volatile, though, with some double-digit percentage swings both up and down. Over the long run, however, Aphria's prospects look pretty good.