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3 Positive Surprises in Aurora Cannabis' Q3 Results: Is the Pot Stock Ready to Rebound?

By Keith Speights – May 15, 2020 at 7:02AM

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The Canadian cannabis producer turned in a better-than-expected performance in Q1. But has it really turned the corner?

There's one number that stands out the most for Aurora Cannabis (ACB 7.26%) over the last 12 months -- 92%. That's how much Aurora's shares have plunged during the period. The marijuana version of Murphy's law has struck the Canadian cannabis producer at every turn. 

But Aurora reported some much more encouraging numbers when it announced its fiscal 2020 third-quarter results after the market closed on Thursday. Shares even soared close to 17% in after-hours trading. Here are three positive surprises in the company's Q3 update -- and whether or not Aurora is really now ready to rebound.

Three cannabis leaves on a line trending upward

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Much higher revenue than expected

The average analysts' estimate was for Aurora to report revenue in the third quarter of 66.7 million Canadian dollars. Aurora's actual net revenue in Q3 totaled CA$78.4 million, excluding provisions of CA$2.9 million, easily blowing past expectations. This result also reflected an 18% jump over the prior quarter.

Aurora delivered growth on all fronts. Its consumer cannabis revenue jumped 24% from the prior quarter to CA$41.5 million (excluding provisions). Canadian medical cannabis net revenue rose 6% quarter over quarter to CA$27 million. International medical cannabis sales skyrocketed 125% to CA$4 million.

The company's launch of its Daily Special value brand in February, along with sales of cannabis derivative products in the Cannabis 2.0 market, were the primary drivers of Aurora's consumer revenue growth. The huge jump in international revenue stemmed from Aurora's resumption of operations in Germany following its temporary halt in the country due to a permitting issue

2. Significantly lower cash burn

An even more important accomplishment for Aurora was that it significantly reduced its cash burn. The company used CA$154.5 million in its fiscal third quarter, down from nearly CA$273 million in the previous quarter.

Aurora's executive chairman and interim CEO Michael Singer has led the company to make some drastic cuts to spending. In February, the cannabis producer reduced the size of its workforce and slashed capital spending. Those actions made a difference in Q3. 

There was one area where spending was higher in the third quarter than in the previous quarter, though. Aurora's interest expense nearly tripled to CA$15.9 million. The company added CA$22 million in debt during the quarter. Its total debt from borrowing now stands at over CA$246 million.

3. On track on all its key metrics

Aurora's management team focuses mainly on six key metrics to manage the business. The company was on track on every one of these metrics during Q3, a big improvement from its dismal performance in the second quarter.

Arguably, the most important of these prioritized metrics is adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) profitability. Aurora reported an adjusted EBITDA loss in Q3 of CA$45.9 million, excluding one-time termination costs related to its staff reduction. While still not anywhere close to being positive, this result trended in the right direction from the company's Q2 adjusted EBITDA loss of CA$80.3 million. Aurora still expects to achieve positive adjusted EBITDA in the first quarter of fiscal 2021, which ends on Sept. 30, 2020.

In addition, Aurora maintained its market share leadership position in key categories. It generated adjusted gross margin before fair value adjustments on cannabis net revenue of 54%. It was on track to meet its goal of reducing selling, general, and administrative expenses, as well as capital expenditures. And as already mentioned, the company significantly reduced its cash burn.

Ready to rebound?

So everything is now all sunshine and roses for Aurora Cannabis with the marijuana stock ready to rebound in a major way over the next few months, right? Not so fast.

There are some reasons for cautious optimism. Aurora's cost-cutting moves are helping. The launch of a value cannabis brand appears to have been a good move. The Cannabis 2.0 market should pick up momentum, especially if concerns ease about the COVID-19 outbreak.

But Aurora continues to lose a lot of money. Not mentioned above is the company's Q3 net loss of CA$137.4 million, or CA$1.37 per share. That's much worse than the net loss of CA$0.77 that analysts were expecting. And even with Aurora's lower rate of cash burn, it still used over CA$150 million of cash in the last quarter. 

The company likes to stress its path to achieving adjusted EBITDA profitability, but that's not the same thing as actual profitability. The company ended Q3 with CA$230.2 million in cash, thanks mainly to CA$206.5 raised through an at-the-market offering. It's a foregone conclusion that Aurora will need to raise more cash in the future. That means more dilution is on the way.

Aurora's situation looks better now than it did a few months ago. However, the company still has a long way to go.

Keith Speights has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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