It's a symbol, an attitude, and a code all at once: The number 420 has become a significant element of cannabis culture. This is why April 20 (4/20, see) is an unofficial holiday for fans of the substance. It wasn't such a love-fest this year, though. With many people stuck inside their homes and only making the occasional forays to the outside world, marijuana sales saw a big drop-off this 4/20.
Yet in somewhat of a contrast, marijuana stocks actually did quite well over the course of the five trading days. Many traded higher across the week, in contrast to the dip experienced by the S&P 500. One stock that grew was Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC), and it had a good reason or two to experience an uptick.
4/20 goes up in smoke
Official historical statistics are, for understandable reasons, hard to come by. But this 4/20 might be one of the worst in recent memory in terms of business for the relatively liberal and lucrative North American market.
Cova Software, a company that specializes in point-of-sale systems tailored specifically for the marijuana industry, crunched its numbers on April 20 to reveal some disturbing insights. The company's data indicated a 50% drop in average sales per store among its North American clients and an even steeper 54% descent for gross profit. There were fewer customers in the stores too; average foot traffic fell by 50%.
Of course, much of this was to be expected -- the coronavirus and the stay-at-home measures it's engendered have made even the most ardent cannabis connoisseur a prisoner of their own domicile. 2019's 4/20 also had the advantage of falling on a Saturday, as opposed to this year's being on a Monday.
But the cannabis business as a whole is thin on cash reserves and was habitually unprofitable even before SARS-CoV-2 began to spread. Certain industries and companies will survive the coronavirus age because they have enough of a cash pile or other potential means of funding. Getting past this situation will be a tougher challenge for marijuana companies, most of which don't enjoy such advantages.
Although Canopy Growth surely isn't happy about the 4/20 damp squib (it's a Cova client, after all, so it's among the statistics above), it had reasons to be cheerful last week regardless.
The first is a new South American regional supply deal Canopy Growth signed with a company in Colombia. This was just after it announced its retreats from direct cultivation and processing in certain foreign markets like, well, Colombia.
The company's arrangement with the Colombian arm of an international producer called Clever Leaves will supply it with medical marijuana extracts to provide for the broader Latin America space. At the moment that market is limited and scattered, but has the potential to get much larger if and when legalization initiatives kick in.
Canopy Growth also rolled out a new product line in a market where plenty of such efforts have borne fruit: the United States. The Canada-based company has introduced the first set of topical creams within its U.S.-only First & Free cannabidiol (CBD) brand. The three creams are loaded with 2,500 milligrams each within their 1.76-ounce tubes.
According to Canopy Growth, this means they're the topicals on this market with the highest potency CBD, the non-psychoactive extract of marijuana that's said to have numerous medicinal advantages.
That's a fine marketing angle for the line, and given the trendiness of CBD products just now, it should help the company score some business. I don't think the new First & Free line will be a monster game-changer for the company, as it's a niche good, but it's always encouraging when a marijuana company broadens its product line.