It's the ultimate, but accurate, cliché: The cannabis industry is growing like a weed. Depending on your preferred source, the global marijuana industry could reach anywhere from $50 billion to $200 billion in sales by the end of the next decade. That should leave plenty of opportunity for patient investors to make money.
The big question being asked is: Which pot stocks will prosper?
Despite its size, Cronos Group's sales aren't all that impressive
The general thesis is that cannabis stocks with the largest market caps should outperform. In other words, why would these companies be valued so aggressively if they weren't expected to be among the leaders in their industry? That means the likes of Canopy Growth, Aurora Cannabis, Curaleaf Holdings, and Cronos Group (NASDAQ:CRON), are expected to deliver the green to investors.
As we look toward 2020, Canopy, Aurora, and Curaleaf all look to substantially grow their top lines. Multistate operator Curaleaf looks on track to be the first legal weed stock to surpass $1 billion in annual sales, while Canopy Growth and Aurora Cannabis should have no trouble nearing or vaulting $500 million in revenue next year.
However, Cronos Group is a different story. Whereas most Canadian growers are expanding their growing capacity at a breakneck pace, Cronos has seriously lagged its peers with regard to adult-use sales and overall production. For its part, Cronos has stated its intention to become a cannabinoid company, with a focus on derivative products, including vapes. These derivatives aren't slated to hit dispensary store shelves in Canada until mid-December, at the earliest. And even then, the rollout of alternative consumption options is going to be slow, much in the same way dried flower slow-stepped into the marketplace last year.
What this means for one of the largest pot stocks in the world by market is a relatively tame 2020 on the sales front. Keeping in mind that revenue estimates are highly fluid in the cannabis industry, Wall Street's consensus for Cronos Group is "only" 151.8 million Canadian dollars next year ($115 million).
These cannabis stocks could outsell Cronos Group next year
Comparatively, there are three considerably smaller pot stocks that may wind up outselling Cronos Group in 2020.
For starters, Atlantic-based grower OrganiGram Holdings (NASDAQ:OGI), which has market cap of $666 million, compared to Cronos Group at $3.6 billion, is forecast by Wall Street to generate CA$155.4 million in 2020 sales.
What's truly unique about OrganiGram is that it could wind up outselling a cannabis stock many times its size with only one growing facility, located in Moncton, New Brunswick. It's highly unusual for a major grower to focus its operations on a single grow site, but OrganiGram's utilization of a three-tiered growing system at Moncton should allow the company to produce up to 113,000 kilos of peak annual output in less than 500,000 square feet of cultivation space. That should make for one of the highest yields per square foot in the entire industry.
OrganiGram's geographic location is also unique. With most major growers headquartered in more highly populated regions of Canada, OrganiGram's headquarters in New Brunswick might be viewed as a disadvantage. But this isn't the case. OrganiGram is one of a select few growers to have supply deals with all of Canada's provinces, and its geographic location to Canada's eastern provinces, all of which have higher marijuana use rates, could prove beneficial.
Suffice it to say that not only does OrganiGram have the ability to outsell Cronos Group next year, but I expect its margins to be far superior to its larger peer.
The Supreme Cannabis Company
Another surprise is that The Supreme Cannabis Company (OTC:SPRWF), a niche grower with a $450 million market cap, may wind up outselling the much larger Cronos Group in 2020.
Whereas OrganiGram at least nears Cronos Group's peak production potential (around 120,000 kilos per year), Supreme Cannabis Company's peak annual output is only likely to hit 50,000 kilos a year at its 7Acres campus. But there's a distinct difference between the marijuana that Supreme Cannabis and its peers are producing. Supreme Cannabis is angling to be a major player in the premium and ultra-premium dried flower and derivative space, with most other growers pushing out as much discount or average-quality weed as possible. There's very little supply or pricing pressure in the premium and ultra-premium flower and derivative space, which means that Supreme Cannabis should have little trouble netting strong margins from its product.
Supreme Cannabis has also been active on the derivatives front, despite its relatively small size. It's one of the four growers to be chosen as a supply partner by popular vape device maker PAX Labs (note, OrganiGram is another of the four), and it's contracted out MediPharm Labs as an extraction and production partner for high-margin derivatives.
Although Wall Street is currently forecasting CA$149.6 million in 2020 sales for Supreme Cannabis, it's very possible that this targeted cannabis company outperforms projections.
It's even possible that Ontario-based grower Flowr Corp. (OTC:FLWPF) stuns Wall Street and outsells Cronos Group next year. This would be especially impressive considering that Flowr's market cap of $311 million is less than a tenth that of Cronos.
Coincidentally, Flowr's production at its flagship Kelowna campus is also focused on the premium and ultra-premium dried flower space. When fully operational, Kelowna should be capable of at least 50,000 kilos of exceptionally high-quality flower and derivatives, with the company potentially boasting the highest yields per square foot in the entire industry. According to the newest company presentation, Flowr is already on track to yield 300 grams per square foot in 2019, with the company working with Scotts Miracle-Gro subsidiary Hawthorne Gardening to boost yields to 400 grams per square foot by 2022.
The wildcard here is that Flowr recently completed the acquisition of Holigen in a cash-and-stock deal. Holigen has a 7-million-square-foot outdoor grow farm known as Aljustrel in Portugal that, when fully operational, should yield 500,000 kilos per year. Even with this outdoor-grown marijuana not matching Kelowna's quality, the sheer proximity of this production to Europe's burgeoning medical pot industry, and the potential to transform some of this product into high-margin derivatives, should be a significant growth driver.
At last check, Wall Street was forecasting CA$104.6 million in 2020 sales for Flowr. However, this failed to include the company's acquisition of Holigen. My suspicion is that Flowr, despite is diminutive market cap, can outsell Cronos Group next year.