For the past couple of months, there's a good chance that all you've been hearing about is how the work-from-home economy is going to be the place to invest moving forward. Everything from cloud computing to cybersecurity is expected to be a surefire winner.
However, Wall Street and investors might be discounting one of the strongest expected growth trends throughout the 2020s: marijuana. Despite a recent rough patch that's seen cannabis stocks contend with a number of regulatory-, supply , and tax-based growing pains, legalization efforts throughout North America and Europe should allow these companies to grow at an exceptionally fast pace.
How fast, you ask? Having run a quick screen, I was able to locate three pot stocks that are slated to grow their annual sales over the next five years (2019 through 2024) by an average of at least 59%. The criteria I used was simply that a cannabis stock had to have a market cap north of $200 million, and there needed to be a Wall Street consensus sales estimate for fiscal 2024.
The following three pot stocks stand out as the industry's fastest-growing companies through 2024.
Cronos Group: 104.82% CAGR
The hands-down quickest-growing pot stock in North America, based on Wall Street's estimates, is Canadian licensed producer Cronos Group (CRON 1.37%). After generating $23.75 million Canadian in full-year sales in 2019, Wall Street has the company pegged for CA$856 million in full-year sales for 2024. That's a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of a cool 104.82%.
Of course, it should be noted that a significant portion of this growth in the years that lie ahead derives from Cronos' subpar performance since Canada legalized adult-use weed back in October 2018. Wall Street had been expecting Cronos to significantly grow its sales and reach, but the company has only been working with one meaningful cultivation farm (Peace Naturals), which is capable of approximately 40,000 kilos of output a year, and it's struggled mightily to sell higher-margin derivatives.
As some of you might recall, Cronos Group landed a whale in late 2018 when tobacco giant Altria Group (MO 1.06%) announced that it would invest $1.8 billion (that's U.S.) into the company for a 45% equity stake. Not only did this completely allay any cash concerns Cronos might have had, but it gave the company access to Altria's skilled marketing and product development team.
However, there have been problems aplenty. A U.S. vape-related health scare emerged last summer that was eventually traced to vitamin E acetate. Meanwhile, in Canada, two provinces have banned vape sales entirely, with a third (Alberta) temporarily halting sales. It also didn't help that the launch of derivative products in Canada was delayed by a good two months until mid-December 2019.
If Cronos Group does reach CA$856 million in full-year sales by 2024, it'll likely do with significant guidance from Altria, and perhaps a hefty shot of organic growth from the U.S. legalizing weed at the federal level. Even so, profitability look elusive for Cronos until at least 2023, which makes this a fast-growing pot stock to watch from afar.
Curaleaf Holdings: 59.85% CAGR
According to Wall Street, the fastest-growing U.S.-based cannabis stock is multistate operator (MSO) Curaleaf Holdings (CURLF 1.97%). Following $250.64 million in managed revenue in 2019, consensus estimates are calling for $2.616 billion in full-year sales by 2024. That works out to a five-year CAGR of 59.85%.
In the near-term, Curaleaf's sales growth is predominantly getting a shot in the arm from acquisitions. While the company is generating organic growth at its existing dispensaries, it's two major purchases that should help Curaleaf become the first marijuana stock to generate $1 billion in annual sales.
First, Curaleaf closed the purchase of Cura Partners in early February. Cura Partners owned the Select brand, as well as Select's manufacturing, distribution, marketing, and sales operations. Select is a well-known West Coast cannabis brand that offers a diverse portfolio of high-margin derivative products.
The second deal involved Curaleaf acquiring privately held MSO Grassroots. The all-share deal, which was completed in mid-July, catapulted the combined company's dispensary license count to 135, and upped its presence to 23 legalized states. As of Sept. 3, Curaleaf had the most open dispensaries (91) of any MSO, with Trulieve Cannabis a distant second with 60.
Beyond 2021, Curaleaf's growth should be almost exclusively tied to same-store sales growth, with a handful of new store openings mixed in. Even if the U.S. lags its northern neighbor in legalizing pot at the federal level, there are more than enough high-dollar states that have legalized marijuana in recent years that $2 billion-plus in annual sales is a very reachable number for Curaleaf.
Cresco Labs: 59.12% CAGR
Last, but not least, U.S. MSO Cresco Labs (CRLBF 9.47%) is expected to deliver some lightning-fast growth over the next five years. Following $128.53 million in full-year sales in 2019, Wall Street has Cresco pegged for $1.311 billion in full-year revenue by 2024. That's a five-year CAGR of 59.12%.
Similar to Curaleaf, Cresco's near-term growth has been highly dependent on acquisitions. Most notably, it closed its all-share deal to acquire Origin House on Jan. 8, 2020. Though the deal did come with 92,000 square feet of indoor cultivation, the real dangling carrot was Origin House holding one of only a small number of cannabis distribution licenses in the largest marijuana market in the world, California. With the deal closed, Cresco now has the ability to get its products, as well as the more than one dozen third-party products Origin House distributed, into more than 575 dispensaries in the Golden State.
Cresco Labs has also been making waves in Illinois, where it's opened up nine dispensaries. Unlike Curaleaf, which sitting on 135 dispensary licenses, Cresco only holds licenses to open 29 retail locations spanning nine states. But it's making its operational dispensaries count with a big-time focus on the Land of Lincoln. Since Illinois is a limited license state, Cresco has a good shot at building share and grabbing its piece of what could become a $1 billion-plus annual sales pie by 2024.
Though most cannabis stocks aren't thrilled with the wholesale model, it's certainly been working early on for Cresco Labs. With a fast-growing retail presence in a handful of high-dollar states and a wholesale model that's built on volume and cost-efficiency, Cresco Labs might be best-positioned of these three pot stocks to thrive.