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Weekly Cannabis Stock News: The Coronavirus Conquers Cannabis Companies

By Eric Volkman - Mar 16, 2020 at 3:40PM

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Tilray in particular had a horrible, terrible, no-good time during the period.

The world is buckling under the weight of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and the disease resulting from it, COVID-19. Despite occasional recoveries amid bouts of optimism, stocks have headed steeply downward. It's no different for marijuana companies.

The withering effect of the coronavirus pandemic was felt acutely in the sector last week, but it wasn't the only factor affecting the decline. Here are two other developments during the period worth noting.

Cannabis on desk at doctor's office.

Image source: Getty Images.

Tilray's latest stock issue

In a spectacular case of bad timing, Tilray (TLRY) attempted to tap investors for a new round of fundraising. On Friday, the struggling marijuana company floated a new issue of securities, and the selling price -- plus general investor panic about the effects of the coronavirus contagion on equities -- drove the company's stock down by more than 30% that day.

The company essentially offered packages consisting of either one share of its common stock plus one warrant to purchase stock in the future or two warrants. Each package was priced at $4.76 apiece, which was well below the previous day's closing price of the stock.

All told, the issue will bring in just over $90 million in gross proceeds for the habitually loss-making company. That's the good news. The bad news is that assuming all warrants are eventually exercised, the issue would add 19 million to the company's outstanding shares count of slightly more than 87 million (as of its latest reported quarter).

That's significant dilution, and dilution is not a happy situation for existing shareholders. Investors might be weary of Tilray (and numerous marijuana industry peers) pulling the stock issue lever so often. It's a move that looks increasingly like a frantic attempt to shore up the capital base rather than an opportunistic attempt to take advantage of a certain business situation.

As we saw in the company's recently reported fourth-quarter results, Tilray is a company with some heavy struggles behind and ahead of it. I very much doubt this will be its last attempt at raising funds.

OrganiGram researchers sample edibles

OrganiGram Holdings (OGI -4.13%) made the interesting move of publicly releasing some of its research. The company is headquartered in Canada, the country that is -- finally -- at the beginning of its so-called "Cannabis 2.0" phase of legalization, in which derivative products such as weed-infused candies, chocolates, and beverages are becoming available.

From a survey of 2,001 Canadian adults, OrganiGram gleaned that respondents in all age groups were eager to try edible products. The ones hottest to trot were in the ever-coveted 19-to-34 age group. All told, 1 out of 3 intended to try edibles; roughly half of those people will also consume in more traditional ways, e.g. by smoking marijuana flower (or "bud," as some call it).

Baked goods were the preferred delivery vehicle for cannabis; 61% of all respondents said they preferred this type of edible. This was despite the 72% preference of the 19-to-34 age group for candies. Finally, on average, respondents said their ideal level of THC dosage per edible product was 5 milligrams or less.

OrganiGram said that these insights will help it "make informed decisions around product design [and] help us understand what Canadians need to know most" about edibles. Cannabis 2.0 is a promising segment, and if the company can leverage its knowledge into a strong position on the market, it can notably improve its results.

OrganiGram didn't do as badly as some of its marijuana stock peers last week. Its shares fell by a relatively modest 7% over the five trading days.

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