This year started off as a happy one for Canopy Growth (NASDAQ:CGC) investors. The Canadian marijuana stock skyrocketed in early January and soared more than 90% by late April. And then the bottom fell out.
Canopy encountered problem after problem. Disappointing revenue growth. Product returns. Founder and former CEO Bruce Linton booted out. Shares are now down more than 25% year to date and are more than 60% off the highs set earlier this year.
But don't think the malaise from 2019 will carry over into the new year. Here are three reasons Canopy Growth will bounce back in 2020.
1. More cannabis retail stores
In Canopy Growth's fiscal 2020 second-quarter conference call, CEO Mark Zekulin minced no words in his explanation of the biggest problem that the company faces. "The market opportunity today is simply not living up to explanations," he said, adding that "the inability of the Ontario government to license retail stores right off the bat has resulted in half of the expected market in Canada simply not existing."
To be sure, not all of Canopy Growth's woes were the result of the limited retail infrastructure in Ontario. However, Zekulin wasn't exaggerating the problem. The good news, though, is that a solution is on the way.
Ontario has licensed 42 new retail cannabis stores in its first wave of addressing the problem. The province plans to issue around 20 new licenses each month beginning in March 2020. Canopy Growth was hoping to see 40 new stores opening each month beginning in January. While that won't be the case, the additional cannabis retail stores in Ontario should significantly boost Canopy's adult-use recreational marijuana sales next year.
2. An expanding Cannabis 2.0 market
The improving retail scenario in Ontario comes at a good time. Canada's "Cannabis 2.0" cannabis derivatives market is in its infancy and should really pick up momentum next year. The first cannabis derivatives products were able to be shipped beginning Dec. 16, although most of the new products won't hit the shelves until January.
Canopy Growth plans to roll out its first cannabis derivatives products in early January. These will include cannabis chocolates and three cannabis-infused beverage products. The company expects to launch its vape products in late January. Canopy also intends to introduce other cannabis-infused beverages during January and February.
Just how big the Cannabis 2.0 market will be remains to be seen. However, Ernst & Young projects that by 2025 sales of cannabis extracts, edibles, and non-edible derivatives could reach nearly 6 billion in Canadian dollars. That's nearly as big as the entire Canadian cannabis market this year.
3. A new CEO
Canopy Growth announced David Klein as its new CEO earlier this month. Klein will replace outgoing CEO Mark Zekulin on Jan. 14. Could a new person at the helm really help Canopy bounce back in 2020? Absolutely.
For one thing, Canopy's shares jumped on the news of Klein's hiring. The excitement stemmed over Klein's background. He currently serves as CFO of Constellation Brands, Canopy's partner and largest shareholder.
Klein won't be able to singlehandedly fix all of Canopy's problems in a short timeframe. However, he almost certainly will bring a financial discipline to the company that it's never had. It won't be surprising if one of Klein's top priorities is to set Canopy Growth on a clear path to profitability. That alone should boost the stock.
What probably won't be a big catalyst
Don't look for the company's U.S. strategy to serve as a major catalyst next year. Sure, Canopy recently launched its first hemp-derived CBD products in the United States. However, those products will be available only online at a new website, at least initially. This limited retail distribution channel isn't likely to generate massive sales.
What about Canopy's deal to acquire Acreage Holdings? The acquisition hinges on changes to U.S. federal marijuana laws. Although federal legalization of marijuana has solid public support as well as some political support, the odds that any legislation will pass in the U.S. Senate remain very small for now.
However, Canopy Growth shouldn't need success in the U.S. to still deliver big gains in 2020. An improving retail environment in Canada, a growing cannabis derivatives market, and a financially savvy new leader should be more than enough to give investors a happy new year.