The big day is nearly here for Aurora Cannabis (NYSE:ACB), the most-held cannabis stock among millennials. According to Wall Street, Aurora is just about set to lift its hood on its fiscal second-quarter results after what's been a challenging past year for marijuana stocks.
What should investors expect? The consensus among analysts is that Aurora will report $81.2 million Canadian in revenue (about $61 million), which would represent a modest uptick from the CA$75.2 million in net sales reported in the sequential first quarter. As for its bottom line, the consensus calls for a loss of CA$0.06 per share, which would be a marked improvement over the CA$0.25 per share lost in the year-ago period.
But truth be told, when Aurora does lift the hood on its operating results, its headline numbers aren't going to be nearly as important as a handful of other figures its report will contain. Here are the five figures you'll want to keep a particularly close eye on when Aurora Cannabis delivers its operating results next week.
1. Wholesale cannabis revenue
Although you might be under the impression that Aurora Cannabis is liable to see a big uptick in margins because of the commencement of derivative sales, understand that these derivatives didn't even begin hitting dispensary shelves until about two weeks before the end of 2019. Because of ongoing supply issues and inventory buildup, high-margin alternative consumption products probably had very little impact on Aurora's fiscal Q2 results.
What'll be far more interesting is to see what percentage of sales Aurora Cannabis recognized as wholesale. While the wholesale business can allow Aurora to move a large portion of its product at once, the margins associated with wholesale cannabis are traditionally much lower than the retail side of the business. Management has been pretty clear that it wants to focus on retail and get away from wholesale, but I'm curious to see if the data matches the mission statement. If wholesale cannabis revenue represents an increasingly larger percentage of sales, it'd be a worrisome sign for investors.
2. International sales
Next, investors should keep a close eye on Aurora's international sales, especially given how much money and effort has been spent to make this company a major international player.
In recent quarters, Aurora Cannabis has seen little in the way of overseas revenue. In Q4 2019 and Q1 2020, international sales totaled CA$4.5 million and CA$5 million, respectively, which doesn't come close to offsetting the company's investments. However, with Aurora recognizing CA$0.4 million in high-margin extracts in international markets (that's up from CA$0 in previous quarters) during the sequential first quarter, there is hope that overseas markets will finally begin delivering as expected. Then again, another quarter of subpar overseas sales (let's say sequential growth of around 10% or less) will not be well received by Wall Street or investors.
3. Operating performance (sans bells and whistles)
It probably goes without saying, but Canadian pot stock earnings reports can be confusing. That's because Canadian growers are treated as agricultural companies and as such are required to report their results using International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), which differs from the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) we're used to.
One of the quirks of IFRS accounting is the need to estimate the value of crops every quarter, as well as the cost to sell these crops. These fair-value adjustments can lead to some pretty wild swings in a company's gross profit.
What's more, Aurora Cannabis' operating results have also been influenced by revaluing investments or recognizing capital gains. In other words, there are a lot of bells and whistles that tend to distract from this company's true operating performance.
My recommendation is to look beyond the fair-value adjustments and one-time benefits (and costs) to see how Aurora really performed on an operating basis. If the company winds up dramatically reducing its operating losses in Q2 2020, it could go a long way toward restoring faith in management.
4. Cash on hand
Investors are also going to want to pay very close attention to Aurora Cannabis' cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments. Even though it's often a borderline player among the most cash-rich pot stocks, Aurora also has debt obligations that it needs to take care of. Without a major equity investor and closed off to additional nondilutive forms of financing, the company's only means to raise capital of late has been to sell its common stock. That's a problem when its share price is sinking and its outstanding share count has ballooned by nearly 1.1 billion shares in 5.5 years.
Mind you, Aurora has taken aggressive steps to mitigate its cash burn, including idling construction at its two largest cultivation farms, Aurora Sun in Alberta and Aurora Nordic 2 in Denmark. It's also put the Exeter facility, acquired with the MedReleaf acquisition in July 2018, up for sale. But it remains to be seen if these cost-cutting measures will be enough to stave off a serious cash crunch.
Finally, as always seems to be the case, investors should keep a watchful eye on Aurora Cannabis' goodwill, which should be mostly unchanged from the sequential first quarter after no major acquisitive activity.
The problem here is that Aurora Cannabis ended Q1 2020 with CA$3.17 billion in goodwill, which is far and away the highest in the cannabis space. Representing 57% of the company's total assets, this figure appears to suggest that not only did Aurora overpay for most of its acquisitions, but it overpaid by a lot! I don't see any way for the company to recoup more than CA$3.1 billion in goodwill anytime soon, which makes a major writedown all the more likely. Plus, with the Exeter facility now on sale, it locks in the pricey MedReleaf transaction as perhaps the worst deal of all time in the marijuana space.
Now that you know what to watch for, we simply wait for Aurora Cannabis to lift the hood next week.