What happened

Shares of Canadian pot giant Aphria (NASDAQ:APHA) lost 16.8% of their value in March, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. The cannabis company's stock fell largely as a result of the marketwide downturn caused by the novel coronavirus.

On the bright side, Aphria's shares actually lost less ground in March than several of its chief competitors, including Aurora Cannabis, Canopy Growth, and Tilray. Specifically, Aurora's shares dropped 32%, Canopy plunged 23%, and Tilray plummeted 52%. 

Top view of a marijuana plant.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Early on in the month, Aphria's shares were on the same dreadful trajectory as its closest cannabis peers. In fact, Aphria's stock was down by as much as 38% halfway through the month. The company's saving grace turned out to be a positive note from Bank of America analyst Christopher Carey.

On March 20, Carey upgraded his outlook on Aphria's stock, thanks to the company's healthy cash position and recent ability to steadily grow its market share. Following this upgrade, shares immediately bounced off of their intramonthly lows and ended on a positive note (up 36% over the last two weeks of March).  

Now what

Is Aphria's stock worth buying after this March swoon? It all depends on your tolerance for risk and investing timeline. The bad news is that the legal marijuana industry is still facing a number of hurricane-force headwinds, and these issues won't be resolved overnight.

But if you're on the hunt for a cannabis stock to buy and hold for a solid decade, Aphria should definitely be on your radar. The company is among the rare few that has been profitable in the past year, it has a stronger balance sheet than most of its peers, and it has a foothold in key international markets like Germany. Aphria's value proposition will take a few years to round into shape, but this small-cap cannabis stock could be a big winner for patient investors.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.