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Better Marijuana Stock: Tilray vs. Village Farms

By Keith Speights – May 11, 2019 at 12:00PM

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Don't just look at year-to-date performance in choosing between these two Canadian marijuana stocks.

There's been something of a role reversal for Tilray (TLRY) and Village Farms International (VFF 1.57%). In 2018, Tilray emerged as the best-performing Canadian marijuana stock on the market, with shares skyrocketing 215%. Village Farms, on the other hand, saw its stock plunge 27%.

But so far this year, the tables have been turned. Tilray is down 29% year to date. Meanwhile, Village Farms is one of the top Canadian marijuana stocks with a sizzling gain of 289%.

Does the swing in momentum point to a brighter future for Village Farms? Or is Tilray the better long-term pick? Here's how the two Canadian marijuana stocks compare.

Hands holding $100 bills fanned out with a marijuana leaf on top.

Image source: Getty Images.

The case for Tilray

Tilray doesn't have the greatest production capacity in the cannabis industry. It doesn't have the highest sales. But there's one area where Tilray arguably beats every other Canadian marijuana producer: its impressive lineup of major partners.

Let's start with Novartis. In 2018, Tilray teamed up with the big pharma company's Sandoz Canada subsidiary to market medical cannabis products. That collaboration expanded later in the year to a global one. Novartis is a well-known brand across the world and could be a nice plus in convincing healthcare providers in Europe to go with Tilray's medical cannabis products.

Then there's the beverages market. No, Tilray hasn't received a huge investment like Canopy Growth did from major alcoholic beverage maker Constellation Brands. However, Tilray has joined forces with big beer maker Anheuser-Busch InBev to research nonalcoholic cannabis-infused beverages.

Tilray has the consumer brands box checked, too. Earlier this year, the company announced a deal with Authentic Brands Group (ABG) to distribute cannabis-infused products for consumers. ABG markets 50 brands, including Nautica, Nine West, Prince, and Spyder.

In addition to its key partnerships, Tilray has also been busy on the acquisitions front. In February, the company closed its buyout of Manitoba Harvest, the world's largest hemp foods manufacturer. That acquisition enabled Tilray to jump headfirst into the U.S. hemp market.

With these major partners and an important acquisition under its belt, Tilray is poised to grow significantly as the global cannabis market expands. 

The case for Village Farms

It wasn't all that long ago that Village Farms was known only for its greenhouse cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes. But a pivotal deal in 2017 with marijuana producer Emerald Health Therapeutics changed the dynamics for Village Farms. The two companies formed a joint venture, Pure Sunfarms, with plans to convert a greenhouse owned by Village Farms into a cannabis production facility.

A lot of progress has been made since then. Village Farms shares soared in April on the news that the entire growing area at the British Columbia greenhouse now operated by Pure Sunfarms was in production. This greenhouse should soon reach an annualized production run rate of around 75,000 kilograms and will be joined in the future by a sister facility that will double the joint venture's annual production.

Pure Sunfarms has already lined up one important supply agreement for adult-use recreational marijuana in Canada. In February, the Ontario Cannabis Store selected Pure Sunfarms as a supplier. Ontario is the biggest market in the country.

Village Farms also plans to expand into the U.S. hemp market. The company formed a joint venture with Nature Crisp to grow hemp outdoors to be used in extracting cannabidiol (CBD). Nature Crisp currently operates a family-owned farm located in southeast Georgia. However, the joint venture plans to cultivate hemp and produce hemp-derived CBD in additional states down the road.

Better marijuana stock

I think that Tilray's partnerships and established presence in major cannabis markets give it a clear advantage over Village Farms. While Village Farms stock is beating Tilray so far in 2019, my hunch is that it will be a different story over the longer term.

But although I view Tilray as the better marijuana stock between these two, I don't see Tilray as a stock to buy right now. I think that there are other marijuana stocks that provide a more compelling risk-reward proposition.

Keith Speights has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Village Farms International, Inc. The Motley Fool recommends Anheuser-Busch InBev NV and Constellation Brands. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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