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5 Tremendously Important Numbers in Aurora Cannabis' Q3 Results You Might Have Overlooked

By Keith Speights - May 15, 2019 at 9:30AM

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Sure, Aurora's Q3 revenue growth was fantastic. But here's what the company reported that points to an even brighter future.

Anyone thinking that Aurora Cannabis (ACB 2.39%) would slow down in the third quarter very much missed the mark. The company posted skyrocketing revenue growth that beat analysts' estimates. Aurora's fast-growing sales were enough to wipe away any worries about yet another net loss.

But while investors certainly should pay attention to the top- and bottom-line numbers, there were five tremendously important numbers in Aurora's Q3 results that you might have overlooked. And these numbers should translate to even better days ahead for the Canadian cannabis producer.  

Shadow of a dollar sign on top of a pile of marijuana leaves

Image source: Getty Images.

1. International sales growth of 38%

Aurora's Q3 sales of medical cannabis in international markets grew 38% over the previous quarter to 4 million Canadian dollars. Although this represented only 6% of the company's total net revenue, international sales are growing even faster than Aurora's sales in the Canadian adult-use recreational market. 

The reality is that the international medical cannabis markets present the greatest long-term opportunity for Aurora -- and the company is the leader in international markets. It's encouraging that Aurora achieved impressive international growth despite facing supply shortages for exporting overseas. The company should be able to allocate more product to international markets this year, which should drive growth even higher.

2. Production cash cost per gram decrease of 26%

Another number in Aurora's Q3 results that many might have skimmed past is the company's significant improvement in reducing its cash cost per gram to produce cannabis. Aurora reported a cash cost to produce per gram of dried sold in Q3 of CA$1.42, down 26% from the second quarter. The key to this improvement are higher production volumes and plant yields.

The great news for Aurora is that the picture should get even better as it realizes economies of scale at its "Sky class" facilities. Aurora's management team fully expects that its production cash cost per gram at Aurora Sky and similar facilities will keep falling until they're well under CA$1.00 per gram. This should give Aurora a competitive advantage over many companies. 

3. SG&A expense growth of only 1%

Yes, Aurora's net loss of CA$158.4 million looked pretty bad at first glance. But it included a CA$102 million impact from a noncash fair value loss in the company's convertible notes due to a strong increase in Aurora's stock price. And the net loss also overshadowed the fact that Aurora's Q3 sales, general, and administrative (SG&A) expense increased by only 1% compared to Q2.

Aurora is doing really well at controlling costs. Keeping a lid on expenses with revenue continuing to soar should bring smiles to the faces of the company's shareholders. Aurora expects to achieve positive EBITDA next quarter -- a great milestone on the way to profitability.

4. Annualized production run rate of >150,000 kilograms 

Aurora leads the cannabis industry in funded production capacity. It's made significant progress toward its goal to be able to produce over 625,000 kilograms annually. Aurora stated that with the Aurora Sky and Bradford facilities in full operation, it now has an annualized production run rate of more than 150,000 kilograms. 

Capacity is crucial in generating revenue growth. Aurora will be able to produce plenty of cannabis without relying too much on offtake agreements with third parties. That gives the company more control over its supply and helps reduce costs. 

5. Projected oil extraction capacity of nearly 16,000 kilograms

It's not just the production capacity of cannabis plants that's important. The capacity to extract cannabis oils is also critical. Aurora acknowledged that its capacity to extract oils was a limiting factor in the third quarter. But the company has boosted its international extraction capacity to nearly 7,000 kilograms per quarter and expects to up that number to close to 16,000 kilograms in its fiscal first quarter.

Cannabis oils command premium prices. And with the anticipated launch of Canada's cannabis beverages and edibles market later this year, increased extraction capacity will be paramount. Aurora's efforts to beef up its extraction capacity should pay off in higher revenue and gross margin in the near future.  

One key number that could change

There's also one number that Aurora didn't mention that has been on investors' minds. That number is zero -- and it reflects how many partners the company has outside of the cannabis industry. Aurora's lack of a major partner has arguably kept its market cap well below that of its top rival, Canopy Growth.

But Aurora might not have a different number in this category in the not-too-distant future. It brought billionaire investor Nelson Peltz on board earlier this year to help find prospective partners in industries that could be disrupted by cannabis. The five potentially overlooked numbers mentioned above just might be instrumental in helping Aurora land one or more strategic partners. 

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