You could easily come up with a relatively long list of reasons not to buy Aurora Cannabis (NYSE:ACB). It remains unprofitable. The dilution of its shares has reached epic proportions. The company couldn't even meet revenue guidance that it provided less than a month before its quarterly update. Aurora also hasn't found a major partner from outside the cannabis industry while several of its peers have.
Feel free to pause for a moment and think about all of the other reasons to avoid Aurora. Once you're finished, take a deep breath and put all of that out of your mind. Despite the many downsides with investing in Aurora, there actually are some arguments to be made for the stock. And there's one especially compelling reason to buy Aurora.
Aurora's greatest strength
What's the greatest strength for Aurora Cannabis? The company's industry-leading production capacity is certainly a candidate. However, I think Aurora's greatest strength is instead its international medical cannabis operations. I view Aurora's international leadership as the single most compelling reason to buy the stock.
Aurora claims operations in 24 countries outside Canada -- more than any other cannabis producer. The company is active in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Australia, and South Africa. Aurora isn't just active internationally, though; it's leading in international medical cannabis markets.
The company holds a leading market share in Germany, which boasts the largest legal medical cannabis market outside of North America. Aurora was one of only three producers to be allowed to cultivate medical cannabis inside Germany.
Achieving the European Union (EU) Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification is a must for doing business in Europe, and it helps in selling in other international markets as well. Aurora currently has two facilities that have EU GMP certification. Cam Battley, Aurora's chief corporate officer, said in the company's fourth-quarter conference call that Aurora is in the final stages of obtaining EU GMP certification for two additional Canadian facilities. The company is also building a cannabis production facility in Portugal that should be ready for operation in the second half of 2020.
Aurora has a significant capability in the global hemp market, too. The company acquired Agropro, Europe's largest producer, processor, and supplier of organic hemp and hemp products, in 2018. It also owns Borela, another European hemp processor and distributor, and ICC Labs, a South American leader in hemp and cannabis production.
A major opportunity
These international chops are tremendously important to Aurora's future. I'd argue that they are much more critical than any success the company achieves in its home country of Canada. Why? The opportunity is much larger.
The Canadian medical cannabis market could grow to around $2.3 billion annually. Canada's adult-use recreational market could approach $7 billion per year. But Aurora thinks the European medical cannabis market could present a $74 billion opportunity over the long term.
Keep in mind that we're only talking about medical cannabis. Should countries outside of Canada legalize recreational cannabis, Aurora would be in a great position to leverage its leadership in the medical cannabis space to carve out a significant market share in the recreational market.
And we haven't addressed the hemp opportunity yet. Market researcher Brightfield Group estimates that the European hemp CBD market could reach nearly $1.7 billion by 2023. The U.S. hemp market could be much larger, with Brightfield Group projecting a market size of $22 billion by 2022. Although this estimate is a lot higher than what other analysts predict, Brightfield Group stands by its aggressive projection, saying that "there is too much momentum, too much demand and too much potential for this industry not to explode."
Huge risk, potentially huge reward
Investing in marijuana stocks is fraught with risk. Aurora Cannabis is no exception. The global medical cannabis and hemp CBD markets aren't anywhere close to the sizes that some predict. It's entirely possible that the estimates will prove to be overly optimistic by a wide margin.
But if you're looking for a reason to buy Aurora Cannabis stock, you don't have to search any further than the company's international presence and opportunities. Aurora has made a big bet on being a first mover in several of the global markets. The company has also boosted its production capacity in anticipation of tremendous global demand for cannabis. If it's right, investors who push the list of negatives about Aurora to the side and focus on this one key reason to buy the stock could be richly rewarded over the long run.