OrganiGram Holdings (OGI -1.69%) and Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA -2.48%) are two healthcare stocks headed in completely opposite directions. Thanks to the so-called "green rush" and its recent uplisting to the Nasdaq stock exchange, Canada's OrganiGram has seen its share price jump by an astounding 76% so far this year. Drug store giant Walgreens, by contrast, has continued its long-term downtrend by falling by another 23% over the first half of 2019.
Does Walgreens now represent a more compelling buying opportunity than OrganiGram following its significant drop off in 2019? Or should investors keep piling into OrganiGram as the company attempts to carve out a profitable niche in the jam-packed legal marijuana space? Let's take a deeper look at each stock to find out.
The case for OrganiGram
At 7.4 times next year's projected sales, Atlantic-based pot grower OrganiGram is among the cheapest stocks in the legal cannabis space right now. The long and short of it is that the market initially ignored this name because the company's peak production capacity of 113,000 kilograms per year is well outside the top five among Canadian growers. However, the market has started to warm up to this pot stock over the last few months for several good reasons.
First off, OrganiGram sports the lowest cost of cultivation among publicly traded Canadian pot producers, thanks to its unique three-tier indoor growing system that produces industry-leading yields and plants per room. As an added bonus, the company also has distribution agreements with all 10 Canadian provinces, giving it a well-defined path toward commercial success in its home market.
Most importantly, OrganiGram has big plans for its future. With additional capacity coming online, the company is well positioned to enter the edible and derivative product spaces, once these market segments officially open up in Canada later this year. As part of this effort to expand beyond dried flowers and oils, OrganiGram has also partnered with The Green Solution and Canada's Smartest Kitchen. These two partnerships greatly enhance the company's expertise in the areas of edibles, product processing, and derivative product development.
OrganiGram is also investing in next-generation production platforms. Through a partnership with Hyasynth Biologicals, the company has designs on becoming a leader in the production of ultra-low cost synthetic cannabinoids. While dried flowers will probably always make up the bulk of the cannabis market, there's a good chance that biofermentation platforms like this one will loom large in the industry's future -- especially as novel product categories like cannabis-infused cosmetics, sleep aids, and pet medicines come into their own.
Lastly, OrganiGram has been busy expanding into the international cannabis and hemp markets over the past year. Through an investment in alpha-cannabis Pharma GmbH, OrganiGram now has a footprint in the highly coveted German cannabis space. OrganiGram also bolstered its presence in the emerging hemp space earlier this year by partnering with both 1812 Hemp and Serbian-based hemp grower Eviana.
All told, OrganiGram has a strong domestic footprint, top-notch production facilities, and a rapidly growing presence in the global cannabis and hemp markets.
The case for Walgreens Boots Alliance
With a price-to-sales ratio of 0.35, Walgreens is one of the absolute cheapest large-cap healthcare stocks. The drug store giant also sports a relatively high dividend yield at 3.57%, as well as a fairly low payout ratio of 32.3%. Topping it off, Walgreens has also been in existence for a whopping 118 years at this point, which is an impressive feat in light of how much the retail drug store space has changed over the last 100-plus years.
All that being said, Walgreens is currently facing a host of challenges that have weighed heavily on its share price over the past three years. Despite the company's rock bottom valuation, top-flight dividend program, and position as the world's second-largest drug store chain, Walgreen's shares have now shed nearly 37% of their value since the mid-way point of 2016. Unfortunately, there's no good reason to think this downward trend is about to reverse course anytime soon.
Weakness in the U.S. generic drug space, reimbursement issues, Brexit, President Trump's trade war with China, and the entrance of online retail giant Amazon.com (AMZN -1.17%) into the pharmaceutical arena have all played a key part in bringing Walgreens' share price down over this turbulent period. In fact, Walgreens posted historically poor second-quarter earnings earlier this year, forcing the company to accelerate its cost-savings plan.
All things considered, Walgreens may have earned its bargain basement valuation. Although the drug store behemoth recently partnered with Microsoft to build out a state-of-the-art digital storefront, this effort may be too little, too late. Microsoft, after all, has a spotty track record when it comes to acting as the white knight for outmoded companies.
Which stock is the better buy?
While OrganiGram is operating in a risky space with an uncertain outlook, this small-cap pot stock is arguably a far more compelling buy that drugstore giant Walgreens right now. Flat out, Amazon poses an existential threat to drug store chains like Walgreens. That might sound harsh, but Amazon has unique capabilities that no other online retailer has been able to match -- irrespective of the market segment in question. Walgreens, in turn, could be in big trouble if Amazon decides to push even deeper into the pharmaceutical space. OrganiGram, on the other hand, appears to have the pieces in place to be a top player in the legal marijuana industry in the coming decade.