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Weekly Cannabis Stock News: Tilray's Revenue Squeeze and Mounting Losses

By Eric Volkman - Mar 8, 2020 at 12:46PM

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The marijuana stocks see-saw took a big dip on general market weakness plus some bad news from several top companies in the sector.

Last week wasn't a particularly eventful one for marijuana stocks, save for the inconvenient fact that most of their prices dropped at double-digit percentage rates. This, of course, was due more to general fears of the effect of the coronavirus on the global economy and the fallout for the publicly traded companies active within it.

That said, there were a few specific developments of note with cannabis companies across the five-day span. Let's take a look at two items worthy of brief recaps.

A hand crushing a marijuana plant.

Image source: Getty Images

Tilray tanks on Q4 performance

The first major news item for pot stocks in the week was Tilray's (TLRY) release of its Q4 and full-year fiscal 2019 results. This didn't make for an auspicious start to the period, and drove down the company's shares by more than 30% from Monday to Friday.

For the quarter, Tilray booked revenue of $23 million. This went in the opposite direction of the better-performing marijuana companies lately -- in other words, it dropped on a quarter-over-quarter basis, by 8% to be exact. Net loss widened considerably to just over $219 million from the Q3 shortfall of nearly $36 million, not to mention the Q4 2018 deficit of $31 million.

The top-line slide was due largely to revenue declines in both the recreational and bulk cannabis categories, both rather worrying developments for a company that still makes most of its coin on marijuana sales. A big reason for the deepened net loss was a $112 million impairment charge for Tilray's investment into a revenue-sharing agreement with Authentic Brands Group. This is also concerning, as it seems the company is getting little or nothing from its involvement in this deal.

All that said, there are reasons for Tilray investors to hang on and hope for better times. One is the company's Manitoba Harvest, an investment that's actually producing results -- the hemp food products king brought in almost $19 million in revenue during the quarter. This not only formed a significant chunk of total revenue, but it also gives the company some diversification and reduces its formerly heavy dependence on cannabis.

Still, the results weren't exactly encouraging. If I were a shareholder, I wouldn't necessarily abandon the stock -- it's quite cheap these days and there's a faint chance that there are better times ahead for the company. Yet if I were considering buying it anew, I'd likely give it a pass -- revenue is withering and that red ink has been gushing lately.

Canopy Growth closes two greenhouses

Another dispiriting piece of news during the week was Canopy Growth's (CGC -5.96%) announcement that it's closing two of its greenhouses, both located in the weed-rich western province of British Columbia, and scotching plans to build a third in Ontario.

Greenhouses aren't cheap to construct, maintain, and operate, so profitability-strapped Canopy Growth is sensibly looking to save a few dollars. Besides, as the company didn't hesitate to point out, outdoor facilities can be cheaper. Happily, it operates one such site that's currently contributing to its production needs.

Of course the shutdowns -- or "production optimization plan" in the company's byzantine language -- will come at a price. Canopy Growth expects to take pre-tax charges of 700 million Canadian dollars ($521 million) to CA$800 million ($596 million) this quarter for these moves.

That's a big, bitter pill to swallow considering that the company's total gross revenue in its latest reported quarter -- in which it performed better than expected, by the way -- was less than CA$136 million ($101 million).

Not long ago, cannabis companies like Canopy Growth were in grow-at-any-price mode. It's a sign of their maturity that at least a few are reversing course by figuring out ways to save rather than spend.

This company's "production optimization plan" isn't enough to sway me on its shares, but at least it's willing to batten down the hatches to some degree. Hopefully, this will help improve its bottom line at some point.


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