All you had to do to know how the latest quarters went for Aphria (APHA) and OrganiGram (OGI -3.20%) was to look at their share prices following their earnings announcements. Aphria stock fell on Tuesday after the company missed analysts' revenue estimates and lowered its full-year outlook. On the other hand, shares of OrganiGram skyrocketed after the company posted much better-than-expected revenue in its fiscal 2020 first-quarter results.
Were there any hints about how the Canadian cannabis industry's two biggest players, Aurora Cannabis (ACB -3.62%) and Canopy Growth (CGC -5.96%), could fare in 2020 in Aphria's and OrganiGram's quarterly updates? Actually, yes. There was both good news and bad news for Aurora and Canopy.
Most people like to hear the bad news first, so let's start there. Two key factors behind Aphria's lower full-year outlook for fiscal 2020 will weigh on Aurora Cannabis, Canopy Growth, and the rest of the industry.
Aphria CFO Carl Merton stated in the company's Q2 conference call that the biggest reason for the lower guidance was Ontario's slower-than-expected rollout of new retail cannabis stores. He noted that there were "40 additional stores that were supposed to be opened sometime in the late fall and now don't look like they're going to get opened until March, maybe late April."
In November, Canopy Growth CFO Mike Lee said that the company was projecting "40 new stores opening per month in Ontario starting in January." That's a much higher estimate than what will actually happen.
The second-biggest factor impacting Aphria's weaker outlook was Alberta's ban of vaping products. Although this ban is temporary, it probably won't be lifted until late April. OrganiGram CEO Greg Engel was asked about how Alberta's ban impacted his company's outlook in OrganiGram's quarterly conference call Tuesday afternoon. Although Engel didn't directly answer the question, he acknowledged that it was "a last minute change" and "certainly was unexpected."
Both Aurora and Canopy Growth have made big bets on selling vapes in the Cannabis 2.0 market. The temporary ban in Alberta will almost certainly dampen each company's growth in the first half of 2020.
Speaking of the Cannabis 2.0 market, Aphria CEO Irwin Simon said that there has "been a more muted initial purchases by the control boards" in the Cannabis 2.0 market than there was in the initial Canadian recreational marijuana launch. He added that there have been lower purchases but with a higher frequency.
Now for some good news. Even though Irwin Simon indicated that the Cannabis 2.0 market wasn't as frenzied as the initial recreational pot market launch in 2018, he said that Aphria expects to see positive margin impact from cannabis derivative sales in its third quarter, which ends on Feb. 29, 2020.
Greg Engel was even more positive about the Cannabis 2.0 market. He noted that OrganiGram has received a "good response to vapes overall." And although OrganiGram hasn't begun to ship cannabis edible products yet, Engel said that "one of the key large provinces has already tripled the order that they had wanted to place based on the consumer demand that they're seeing in the marketplace."
This strong demand bodes well for Aurora and Canopy. Both companies are launching cannabis-infused chocolates. Aurora is also rolling out gummies and mints, while Canopy is hoping to make a big splash with its cannabis-infused beverages.
While Aphria's Q2 results were disappointing, the company still provided some reasons for optimism in its latest update. Aphria had to buy wholesale cannabis because "customer demand exceeded the company's supply capabilities in the second quarter." Although some of this supply/demand imbalance was caused by Aphria not receiving a license for its Aphria Diamond facility in November, the level of demand could be good news for Aurora and Canopy. OrganiGram's strong quarterly performance reinforces this optimistic view.
Engel also mentioned that Canadian provinces, especially Alberta and Ontario, aren't holding as much inventory as they have in the past. That could be great for the big cannabis producers if the Cannabis 2.0 market really picks up momentum, causing the provinces to order a lot more product in future quarters.
What's the most important thing that Aurora and Canopy should note from Aphria's and OrganiGram's latest quarterly updates? Probably the fact that both Aphria and OrganiGram delivered positive adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA).
Most Canadian marijuana stocks -- including Aurora and Canopy -- aren't profitable yet. Generating positive EBITDA is a key step toward achieving profitability. Investors are focused more on the bottom line for cannabis producers than ever before. For Aurora Cannabis and Canopy Growth to deliver good news instead of bad news for investors in their next quarterly updates, they'll need to show progress toward achieving positive EBITDA.