While many Canadian pot stocks have struggled in 2020, a few U.S. cannabis stocks had a marvelous year -- among them, Curaleaf Holdings (CURLF -0.51%). While the benchmark Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences ETF is down 4% for the year, Curaleaf's stock has soared 96%. And it has a lot more potential packed in.
Not only did Curaleaf show consistent triple-digit revenue growth this year, but last month, it reported another quarter of positive EBITDA (which stands for earnings before income, tax, depreciation, and amortization). Its balance sheet is stable, so it's in good financial shape to expand into the new markets that were opened up by the cannabis legalization initiatives that passed in various states this November. At this point, a total of 35 states and the District of Colombia have legalized the use of cannabis for medical purposes, while 15 states and D.C. allow its recreational use by adults. Let's evaluate how prepared Curaleaf is to capitalize, and whether it can make millionaires out of investors along the way.
Its outstanding revenue growth is taking it closer to profitability
In both its retail and wholesale businesses, Curaleaf is thriving. In the third quarter, total revenue grew by a whopping 195% year over year to $182.4 million. Much of that remarkable revenue growth can be traced to Curaleaf's aggressive acquisition strategy. Its retail revenue was up 206.5% to $135.3 million year over year in Q3, compared to $44.2 million in the year-ago period. Wholesale revenue took a humongous jump from $6.5 million a year prior to $45.0 million last quarter. The thing to applaud is Curaleaf's bold attempt at completing four acquisitions in 2020 -- namely the Grassroots, Curaleaf NJ, Arrow, and Maine Organic Therapy deals, despite the ongoing global pandemic.
Looking to the bottom line, Curaleaf's EBITDA rang in at $42 million in Q3, compared to $10.4 million in the year-ago period. Sequentially, revenue grew by 55% and EBITDA rose by 51% from the second quarter to the third, a reflection of the energy the company has been putting into developing its business in key markets like Arizona, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. Illinois, which is a rather new market (legalized recreational cannabis in January) has generated $582 million in recreational weed sales through November.
Curaleaf's rapid expansions and aggressive acquisitions have been key to its swift gains on the top and bottom lines. It derived organic growth from new store openings in Florida, Massachusetts, Arizona, and New York. The two dispensaries it bought in Arizona in Q3 2019 and its acquisition of Acres in Nevada in January also helped grow retail sales.
During the Q3 earnings call last month, Curaleaf President Joseph Bayern pointed out that currently, only an "estimated 5% to 7% of the U.S. population" uses legal cannabis -- that gives the nascent industry a great deal of room to grow. And in his view, based on the company's differentiated product portfolio and a widening national footprint, Curaleaf is "uniquely positioned to lead this growth."
I can't see any reasons why Curaleaf wouldn't be able to do that. The company has a presence in 23 U.S. states. It launched its Select brand in four new states -- Ohio, Illinois, Maine, and Pennsylvania -- in 2020. Curaleaf acquired cannabis oil brand, Select, from Cura Partners in February for $948.8 million. It's now available in 16 states.
The company ended the quarter with $84.6 million in cash and $280 million of outstanding debt, net of unamortized debt discounts. With its growing revenue and EBITDA, it should have no difficulty managing these debts. Moreover, the company is on course for even greater profits than ever just from rising revenues from its existing facilities. So imagine the growth it could achieve when it expands into new markets. Curaleaf offers investors plenty of reasons to believe it can prosper once the cannabis industry reaches its full potential in the U.S. following federal legalization.
Solid financials, striking top-line growth, a leading position in the U.S. market, and an ongoing strategy of rapid expansion all add up to a strong case that Curaleaf could be a millionaire-maker cannabis stock for investors who hold it and lie in wait for U.S. legalization.