What a difference a year makes. Tilray (NASDAQ:TLRY) ranked as the best-performing Canadian marijuana stock of 2018, with its shares skyrocketing 215%. But while many of its peers have delivered nice gains so far in 2019, Tilray is down close to 30%.
Tilray might be poised for a big rebound, though. The company announced better-than-expected first-quarter sales on Tuesday. And there were four things mentioned in Tilray's Q1 conference call that could be key catalysts that cause the stock to soar this year.
1. U.S. hemp CBD opportunity
Tilray's acquisition of hemp foods company Manitoba Harvest made a big difference in the company's Q1 revenue even though there was only one month of sales. You can count on hemp, especially the U.S. hemp cannabidiol (CBD) market, becoming an even larger growth driver in the second half of 2019.
CFO Mark Castaneda said that Manitoba Harvest should launch hemp CBD products in the U.S. beginning in the second half of the year. This will be a key step in moving toward Tilray's goal of $20 million in sales per quarter from Manitoba.
But wait, there's more. Tilray CEO Brendan Kennedy mentioned that co-branded products from the company's partnership with Authentic Brands Group (ABG) should be on the market in the U.S. and Canada in the second half of 2019 also. He added that the focus will be on CBD products.
2. Canadian cannabis edibles and extracts market opening
Canada appears to be on track to open the market for cannabis extracts edibles and extracts in October 2019. Tilray expects to have multiple products for sale as soon as it's allowed to do so. The company has expanded capacity at its Ontario facility and is working with Anheuser-Busch InBev to have cannabis-infused beverages ready to launch.
Don't expect much in the way of sales from this market this year. Canada has a "60-day rule," which requires companies to notify regulators of new products 60 days before the products are available for sale. However, that 60-day period can't begin until cannabis edibles and extracts are added to Schedule 4 of the Cannabis Act -- and that might not happen until Oct. 17, 2019.
But the mere anticipation of this new market opening could provide a nice boost to Tilray's share price. That should especially be the case if Canada's final packaging requirements aren't too restrictive.
3. Greater European production capacity
Tilray's international medical cannabis sales jumped a whopping 321% over the prior-year period, with most of those sales made in the German market. Expect the company's international sales to continue to climb this year thanks to more production coming from its Portugal facility.
Actually, Tilray is already producing quite a bit from its major cannabis facility in Cantanhede, Portugal. However, the facility doesn't have GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) certification yet, so the company is just building up inventory at this point.
Tilray expects that its facility will receive three different GMP certifications over the next four to five months. Once the GMP certifications are in hand, the company can begin shipping its built-up inventory and recognize revenue in the second half of this year.
4. Potential new partners
You could argue that Tilray's partnership strategy is its biggest competitive strength. The company has teamed up with major companies that operate outside of the cannabis industry such as Anheuser-Busch InBev, Authentic Brands Group, and Novartis. More partners could be on the way.
Brendan Kennedy listed adding more strategic partnerships as a top goal for the company. He also said that the company has received a large volume of calls from Fortune 500 companies seeking cannabis partners.
What kinds of partners might Tilray add? The company definitely hopes to line up several major retail partners for its Manitoba Harvest products. Don't be surprised if Tilray also teams up with additional consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies and perhaps even a major tobacco company. As Tilray and several of its peers have discovered, picking up a big partner can excite investors and be a great catalyst for a stock.
Two things that could hold Tilray back
All four of these factors will likely boost Tilray's share price this year. However, there are also a couple of things that could hold Tilray back.
One is the company's limited production capacity. Receiving GMP certification for the Portugal facility should help on this front. Tilray is also investing to expand three of its Canadian facilities. However, supply remains a major constraint on the company's ability to grow.
There's also the possibility that Tilray's largest shareholder, Privateer Holdings, could sell its Tilray shares in significant volumes. Privateer announced in January that it wouldn't sell any of its stake in the first half of 2019. However, Privateer could very well begin selling in the second half of the year -- and it could create downward pressure on Tilray's share price.