A "Green Wave" is sweeping across North America. In November, voters in four states cast their ballots to legalize recreational marijuana, which will open up new cannabis markets in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota. The North American legal marijuana market will likely reach $19.1 billion by next year and then grow at double-digit percentages annually.
There are certain pot stocks that are best-positioned to capitalize on the current cannabis craze. Here's why Aphria (APHA) (APHA), Trulieve Cannabis (TCNNF -0.91%), and Acreage Holdings (ACRGF) are the best pot stocks to buy this December and hold for a long time.
Today, investors can buy Canada's No. 1 pot producer stock for a very low price. There is no doubt that the shares are undervalued, trading at 5.4 times sales and 1.8 times book value.
During the first quarter of 2021 (ended Aug. 31), Aphria grew its revenue to CA$145.7 million from CA$126.1 million in last year's quarter. Simultaneously, the company increased its operating income year over year by more than five-fold to CA$20.7 million.
Aside from taking on the lead in the Canadian market, Aphria is also dominating in international markets. Its German subsidiary, CC Pharma, accounts for over half of its overall net sales and has access to over 13,000 drug stores in the country to sell imported medical cannabis.
Another key aspect of Aphria's expansion plan lies in the U.S. Last month, the company announced plans to acquire beer maker SweetWater Brewing for $300 million in cash and stock. The acquisition can help Aphria in building its own brand of cannabis-infused craft beer and other beverages in the U.S. Last year, SweetWater grew its annual beer production volume by 7% to 261,000 barrels, more than twice the competing craft brewers' growth rates. With $66.6 million in revenue and a non-cash operating income (EBITDA) of $22.1 million in the last month, SweetWater is a fantastic addition to Aphria.
Overall, investors who are looking for solid marijuana companies that can expand their footprints globally should definitely consider giving Aphria a shot.
Founded in 2015, Trulieve became profitable after just two years of operation and now holds a 52% market share in the Florida medical cannabis industry. The company also operates 72 dispensaries across six states. Each of its locations generates an average of about $7.5 million in sales and has an impressive customer retention rate of nearly 80%.
By 2025, Florida's medical marijuana sector will likely become a $2.6 billion industry, growing by more than 25% per year from 2019. That's a massive opportunity for the company to provide value to over 400,000 of its patients.
For 2020, Trulieve expects to bring in $485 million in revenue and $225 million in EBITDA, representing substantial increases over its $252.8 million in revenue and $132.5 million in EBITDA in 2019. Additionally, the stock trades at a reasonable eight times sales, making it arguably one of the top U.S.-based marijuana stocks to buy right now.
3. Acreage Holdings
Acreage is one of the biggest nationwide dispensary chains in the U.S., operating 28 stores across 15 states. During the first nine months of 2020, its sales grew by 42% year over year to $83 million. The company brought in a respectable amount of cash flow based on seven brands of vapes, pre-rolls, dried flowers, and CBD oils.
Investors may be questioning why it's a good idea to buy a pot grower that is still not profitable and has an operating loss of $24 million per quarter. The answer lies in its valuation, and it comes in two parts. First, Acreage is only trading at four times revenue, which is quite cheap compared to Aphria, Trulieve, and many of its competitors. Second, a takeover by pot giant Canopy Growth (CGC 0.48%) is pending.
Depending on the share class, Canopy Growth will pay between $6 to $6.41 for every share, representing substantial premiums over its recent price. The whole deal, however, is contingent on full federal legalization of marijuana in the U.S., which is far but assured.
Nonetheless, Acreage's bargain valuation alone should make the stock a fantastic buy. Regardless of the merger's fate, the two companies are also planning to roll out CBD-infused beverages in the U.S. next year, paving the way for a great growth catalyst for Acreage's shares.