Some marijuana stocks are hot. And some are not.
HEXO (HEXO -1.29%) definitely falls into the former category. Its shares have more than doubled so far this year. MariMed (MRMD 4.14%), on the other hand, isn't so hot in 2019. Although the stock soared 371% in 2018, MariMed is down 3% year to date.
But which of these two marijuana stocks is the better long-term pick for investors? Here's what you need to know about HEXO and MariMed.
The case for HEXO
HEXO is a top player in the Canadian adult-use recreational marijuana market. The company scored a major supply agreement last year with the province of Quebec. It now commands a market share of 30% in the recreational marijuana market of Canada's second-most-populated province.
In its last quarter, HEXO reported year-over-year revenue growth of 1,269%. Its sales vaulted 144% from the previous quarter. The key to this success, of course, was the launch of the Canadian recreational marijuana market.
Even better days could lie ahead. Canada is expected to open the gate for sales of cannabis beverages and edibles later this year. HEXO should be in great shape to win in this market. The company formed a joint venture with big beer maker Molson Coors Brewing in 2018 to develop cannabis-infused beverages.
HEXO also appears to be in a solid position on production capacity. It's on pace to produce around 150,000 kilograms of cannabis per year, thanks in part to the acquisition of Newstrike Brands. This is enough to rank HEXO at No. 6 among Canadian marijuana producers based on production capacity.
While HEXO hasn't been a big player in international markets, the company hasn't overlooked the opportunity. In September 2018, HEXO partnered with Greek medical cannabis operator Qannabos to produce and distribute medical cannabis in Europe.
One top Wall Street analyst thinks that HEXO is the best marijuana stock on the market right now. Bank of America's Christopher Carey especially likes HEXO's market position in Quebec and its relatively low valuation, at least compared with its peers.
The case for MariMed
MariMed started out as an advisor to small cannabis operators. However, the company began buying its clients last year. MariMed now is one of the largest multi-state cannabis operators in the U.S.
Its business is certainly booming. In the fourth quarter, MariMed's revenue soared 118% year over year to $3.4 million. That strong growth should continue well into the future.
For one thing, MariMed isn't finished gobbling up its clients. The company expects to complete the consolidation of ownership of its clients' cannabis businesses by 2020. This process should keep MariMed's top line growing steadily.
MariMed should also benefit as more states legalize medical and/or recreational marijuana. The company is poised to be one of the winners in Illinois as the big state moves toward legalizing recreational pot. MariMed has a cannabis production facility in Illinois and markets popular cannabis edibles brand Betty's Eddies.
The company has also jumped into the U.S. hemp market. MariMed invested $30 million in hemp genetics company Gencanna. It formed a new division to focus on developing hemp-based cannabidiol products.
In addition to these growth opportunities, MariMed has other irons in the fire that could pay off. The company invested in Sprout, which markets a customer relationship management and marketing platform designed for the cannabis industry. It also invested in Iconic Ventures and secured exclusive distribution rights in several states for Icon's new DabTabs cannabis vaping product.
Better marijuana stock
I think HEXO gets the nod over MariMed. The launch of the cannabis beverages and edibles market in late 2019 should provide a nice boost for HEXO.
However, international medical cannabis markets will be more important than the Canadian marijuana market over the long run. I'm concerned that HEXO's international presence doesn't match up to several of its peers. While my view is that HEXO is the better pick for now over MariMed, I think there are even better marijuana stocks that should generate higher returns in the future.