For years, the marijuana industry has been a go-to investment. Many of the most popular pot stocks have delivered market-trouncing gains since the beginning of 2016.
However, the past four months have been nothing short of painful for cannabis stock investors. Persistent supply issues throughout much of Canada have constrained sales for Canadian growers, while high tax rates in the U.S. have fueled the black market in states like California. The end result has been a steady decline in sales and profit forecasts throughout much of the industry. Whether we're talking about direct players that grow cannabis or ancillary players working behind the scenes, practically any company involved in the cannabis or cannabinoid industry has seen their profit projections decline.
However, there are exceptions. The following three marijuana stocks have all bucked the trend and seen their 2020 earnings-per-share consensus on Wall Street recently increase.
One of the few pot stocks to see a positive adjustment in its bottom line in recent months is cannabinoid-based drug developer GW Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:GWPH). GW Pharmaceuticals is the first company to have a cannabis-derived drug (not to be confused with a synthetic cannabis product) approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
During the fourth quarter of 2018, GW Pharmaceuticals launched Epidiolex, its oral cannabidiol (CBD) solution that's approved to treat two rare types of childhood-onset epilepsy (Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome). Sales in its initially launched quarter weren't much to speak of. However, net sales of the drug, which is the only approved therapy to treat Dravet syndrome, soared during the first quarter of 2019.
As reported at the beginning of May, GW Pharmaceuticals recorded $33.5 million in net sales through the end of March, with more than 1,900 physicians prescribing the drug, and over 7,600 patients taking it, since its launch. These are encouraging figures that suggest insurance coverage hasn't been an issue, despite a listing price that's north of $30,000 a year. All told, GW Pharmaceuticals was able to report a first-quarter loss that was about a third narrower than Wall Street had been looking for. And, as a result, GW Pharmaceuticals' consensus net loss for 2020 has been reduced by about a third over the past three months.
As long as GW Pharmaceuticals' Epidiolex faces minimal competition in these indications, and the company is successful in expanding its lead drug's label, GW Pharmaceuticals could begin generating recurring quarterly profits by as early as the second half of 2020.
Innovative Industrial Properties
Another pot stock that's seen Wall Street's consensus profit projections for 2020 rise recently is cannabis real estate investment trust (REIT) Innovative Industrial Properties (NYSE:IIPR). Wall Street is now looking for earnings per share of $2.86 in 2020, up from $2.78 per share about a month ago.
The cannabis-REIT model is designed to be a transparent moneymaker. Innovative Industrial Properties aims to acquire land and facilities that can be used for growing and processing medical cannabis in the United States. It then leases out these assets for an extended period of time, thereby netting a return on its investment via rental income, a 3.25% annual rental increase passed on to its clients, and a 1.5% property management fee that's based on the annual rental rate. Thus, IIP, as the company is also known, can boost its bottom line by acquiring new properties, as well as by realizing modest organic rental income growth.
Since the year began, Innovative Industrial Properties has more than doubled the number of properties in its portfolio. It began the year with 11 properties, and its latest addition at the end of July pumped up its portfolio to 26 properties in 12 states. These properties have an average remaining lease length of 15.6 years, and they boast an average yield on invested assets of 14.6%, implying a complete payback of its invested capital in less than five years.
Perhaps the only hitch to IIP's giddyup could be its means of expansion. It's common practice for REITs (of all industries) to issue common stock to raise capital. These newly issued shares not only have the potential to weigh on existing shareholders, but they can lower earnings per share since net income is being divided into more outstanding shares. It's something to keep in mind as Innovative Industrial Properties ramps up its expansion efforts.
Neptune Wellness Solutions
However, the biggest increase in profit projections for 2020 goes to extraction-services provider Neptune Wellness Solutions (NASDAQ:NEPT). According to Wall Street, Neptune's 2020 full-year profit forecast has nearly doubled over the past two months from $0.12 to $0.23 per share.
The reason for this increase can be traced to the excitement surrounding CBD, and the December passage of the farm bill, which legalized industrial hemp production and hemp-derived CBD in the United States.
As you may know, CBD is the nonpsychoactive cannabinoid best known for its perceived medical benefits. Since it doesn't get users high, it's expected to appeal to a greater percentage of adults than cannabis products. Not surprisingly, growth in CBD products could trounce general cannabis industry growth rates over the next five years. That's why investors are so excited about Neptune Wellness Solutions, which has slid right in as a provider of third-party extraction services for hemp and cannabis biomass.
The deal that really put Neptune on the radar was the June announcement that it had signed a three-year agreement with The Green Organic Dutchman (OTC:TGODF). Green Organic Dutchman, which currently slots in as a top five grower in Canada, will supply Neptune with an aggregate of 230,000 kilos of hemp and cannabis biomass. In return, Neptune will extract, formulate, and package organic wellness products for Green Organic Dutchman.
As long as CBD remains a hot trend, Neptune's profit prospects may continue to rise.