Many investors come to expect losses from cannabis companies. After all, the industry's still in its early stages and it's undergoing a lot of growing pains. But that doesn't mean investors have to settle for unprofitable stocks, as there are many that are able to stay above breakeven, in some cases, on a consistent basis. Here are five stocks that didn't land in the red in their most recent earnings reports:
Aphria (NASDAQ:APHA) is developing a reputation for being one of the safer cannabis investments. It's more common than not that Aphria is profitable; the company's been in the black in three of the past four quarters. And while the Ontario-based pot producer may get a boost from non-operating items, it's also recorded an operating profit in two of the past periods.
The company released its third-quarter results on April 14, reporting a profit of 5.7 million Canadian dollars ($4.22 million). A key part of that success has been the company's focus on keeping its costs down. During the quarter, its cash cost to produce dried cannabis per gram fell from CA$1.11 in the second quarter to just CA$0.93 in Q3.
Aphria's also done a good job of controlling its costs. Operating expenses of CA$50.9 million were 35% of its net revenue this past quarter. That's a big improvement from the prior-year period, in which operating expenses of CA$106.6 million included a hefty impairment of CA$58 million and were more than the company's total net revenue of CA$73.6 million.
Like Aphria, Trulieve Cannabis (OTC:TCNNF) has done a great job of consistently staying out of the red. Trulieve has posted a profit in each of its last seven quarters. And what's even more impressive is that in all but one of those quarters, it has recorded positive operating income.
Trulieve being in the black isn't a surprise anymore, and investors have come to expect it. On May 20, the Florida-based pot producer released its first-quarter results of 2020. Its revenue of $96.1 million was more than double the $44.5 million that Trulieve generated in the same period last year. And although the company's profit was down slightly -- $14 million compared with $14.7 million -- the difference can be attributed to Trulieve having a bigger tax bill this year. Its operating income of $31.1 million was a 16% improvement from Q1 2019.
Surprisingly, the stronger results happened despite the company getting less help from fair value adjustments in Q1. This past quarter, fair value adjustments were a net negative $4.4 million, compared with a positive $10.2 million in the prior-year period.
3. Innovative Industrial Properties
Innovative Industrial Properties (NYSE:IIPR) is another stock that investors expect to post a profit, but that's because it's in the real estate business. Innovative Industrial is a real estate investment trust (REIT) that owns properties its tenants use for cultivating cannabis. As a REIT, it's a safe bet to post a profit since it's effectively collecting rent payments from its tenants, not actually growing pot, and taking on the underlying risks involved.
And so it should come as no surprise that the San Diego-based company has reported a profit in each of its last 10 quarters. During the past three quarters, Innovative Industrial's profit margin has been above 50%.
Innovative Industrial reported its first-quarter results on May 6. Revenue for the quarter was $21.1 million, representing year-over-year growth of 210% -- driven mainly by the company having more properties in its portfolio than it did a year ago. Its net income of $11.9 million was more than triple the $3.6 million that Innovative Industrial reported during the same period last year.
Even if some of its tenants struggle amid COVID-19, there's definitely room for the REIT to absorb a hit while remaining profitable in 2020.
Since REITs legally have to pay out at least 90% of their taxable earnings as dividends, this is also the only stock on this list that provides investors with a recurring payout. Currently, Innovative Industrial pays a quarterly dividend of $1, which yields 4.4% on an annual basis. That's better than the typical 2% payout you can earn with an average S&P 500 stock.
4. Valens GroWorks
Valens GroWorks (OTC:VLNCF) is coming off a third consecutive quarter reporting a profit. On April 14, Valens released first-quarter results recording a net income of CA$2.5 million on sales of CA$32 million. The results could have looked even better had Valens not incurred inventory writedowns of CA$2.4 million during the period.
The company also incurred losses related to investments and foreign exchange that chipped away another CA$1 million in profit during the quarter. But with a strong gross margin of 57% and operating expenses representing 36% of net revenue, Valens has put itself in a great position to continue posting profits.
What's encouraging is that the British Columbia-based company still has a lot of growth to come, noting that it has 25 stock keeping units (SKUs) across five product lines that are in development. The one caveat is COVID-19 and the role it may play in impacting sales growth, not just for Valens but all pot stocks.
5. Village Farms
Village Farms International (NASDAQ:VFF) is a bit more volatile than the other pot stocks on this list. The Canadian pot producer's profits have been less consistent, although Village Farms has still hit breakeven or better in four of its last six quarterly results.
In its first-quarter results, which Village Farms released on May 14, the company reported a profit of $4.2 million on sales of $32.1 million. The company's sales were up a modest 1% from the prior-year period, but its profits were down 35% -- largely due to a gain on disposal of assets that a year ago boosted the company's pre-tax earnings by $13.6 million.
Village Farm's success and profitability is largely dependent on the success of its joint venture in Pure Sunfarms, a British Columbia-based growing operation that's one of the largest in the world. Village Farms has a 57.4% ownership in the venture -- Emerald Health Therapeutics owns 41.3%. Pure Sunfarms has been profitable for five consecutive quarters. Income from joint ventures contributed $3.2 million to Village Farms' bottom line in Q1.
With an all-in cost of cultivation of $0.64 per gram, Pure Sunfarms is a profitable operation that can help make Village Farms stay in the black.
Which stock is the best to buy today?
Every stock but Valens GroWorks has outperformed the ETF so far in 2020. Aphria's 13% decline makes it an appealing buy given that there should probably be a bit more optimism surrounding how well the company's done in recent quarters. However, if you're a risk-averse investor, then the best option may be Innovative Industrial. Not only is the stock a more stable buy because it's a REIT, but you'll earn a dividend as well.