What a wild ride Sundial Growers (SNDL -1.99%) has taken investors on. Last year, the Canadian cannabis producer lost 84% of its valuation. At one point, Sundial's shares were down nearly 95% year to date.
But it's been a completely different story in 2021. The marijuana stock is now up more than 160% so far this year. Sundial peaked in early February with a 523% year-to-date gain.
All of this volatility raises an important question: Just how much is Sundial Growers really worth?
A simple approach
Sundial Growers, like many of its peers, isn't profitable yet. Therefore, we can't try to determine the company's valuation based on earnings. However, we can use another well-known metric -- price-to-sales (P/S).
The approach is simple. We look at the average P/S multiples for other companies that operate in the Canadian cannabis industry. Then we use multiply that average times Sundial's sales to get an idea of what the stock arguably should be worth.
There's one major wrinkle with this valuation method, though. Canadian cannabis producers' P/S multiples are all over the map. For example, Canopy Growth's shares currently trade at a whopping 31.7 times sales. Tilray's P/S multiple is around 14.5. Meanwhile, Aurora Cannabis trades at nearly six times sales, while Village Farms' P/S multiple is close to 5.2.
The average P/S ratio for these companies is around 14.3. If Sundial traded at that multiple, the company's market cap would top $12 billion -- roughly 6.5 times greater than the current level.
Of course, Canopy's sky-high P/S multiple skews the average. And Tilray is about to merge with Aphria, a move that has inflated its valuation in recent months. What if we only used the P/S multiples for Aurora and Village Farms to calculate Sundial's worth? The good news is that Sundial should still trade more than double its current level, putting its projected market cap in the ballpark of $5 billion.
It's more complicated
Using the P/S of multiples of Sundial's peers, the stock is still dirt cheap even after its huge gains this year. Time to go buy shares? Not so fast. Calculating how much Sundial is actually worth is more complicated than just applying other companies' P/S multiples to Sundial's sales.
The reason why is that different companies have different growth prospects. Investors don't value stocks based on past performance (which is what P/S ratios do); they instead look to how much the companies will be able to grow in the future.
And that's where the situation gets murky for Sundial. The company's net cannabis revenue in the third quarter of 2020 plunged 36% from the previous quarter. Aurora Cannabis and Village Farms generated solid revenue growth in their latest quarters. Village Farms even posted its seventh consecutive profitable quarter.
The reality is that using these other companies' P/S multiples with Sundial is a flawed approach. Sundial simply isn't in as strong of a position as its peers.
Granted, that could change. Sundial is in a period of transition from relying on wholesale to moving toward branded sales. The company could deliver much better growth when it reports its Q4 results next week. However, there's no guarantee that will happen.
Analysts get paid big bucks to pore over financial numbers and growth prospects to try to figure out what a stock is worth. So what do they say about Sundial? The good news is that analysts are more bullish about the stock, with the consensus one-year price target up 20% from where it was previously. The bad news is that target is still 70% below Sundial's current share price.
Could the analysts be wrong? Sure. However, they believe that Sundial faces steeper challenges than many of its competitors do. That's a fair assessment.
An old adage says that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." We could apply that idea to Sundial as well. Maybe the stock's real worth is whatever investors are willing to pay for it. The main problem with this idea is that investors sometimes pay way more than what a stock is really worth and sometimes pay way less than what it's worth.
My take is that there's a better question to pose than asking what Sundial Growers is worth. Instead, ask if Sundial is the best stock to buy to generate strong returns with an acceptable level of risk. I think for most investors, the answer to that question will be "no." There are too many other stocks, including marijuana stocks, that provide more attractive risk-reward propositions than Sundial does.