[Editor’s note: “Cannabis Stocks Are Gaining, but We’re Still Bearish” was previously published in October 2022. It has since been updated to include the most relevant information available.]
Back in October, U.S. President Joe Biden announced sweeping measures that many believe clears the path toward national marijuana legalization. Following that announcement, the ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (MJ) rose 20% in a single day. And ever since, cannabis stocks have been moving north.
The pop in cannabis stocks is a much-needed reprieve for pot bulls. The industry has felt relentless selling pressure over the past several months – years, in fact. But unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going to last.
What Did Biden Do?
About two months ago, U.S. President Joe Biden announced pardons for all federal offenders convicted of simple marijuana possession. He then urged governors across the country to follow suit with pardons for state and local offenders.
The move will pardon more than 6,500 individuals across the U.S. with prior convictions for possession. If governors follow suit, the pardons will likely extend to tens of thousands of individuals nationwide.
In addition, President Biden also instructed Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland to begin an urgent review of marijuana’s federal classification as a Schedule-1 drug.
Political analysts have posited that the moves are the biggest step yet toward eventual federal legalization.
We agree. By the end of this decade – possibly sooner – cannabis will be legal across the entire United States.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean cannabis stocks are a great buy for the long haul…
Cannabis Stocks Are Cheap Enough for a Big Short-Term Bounce
To be clear, we do think pot stocks will bounce here, and the reasoning is pretty simple. They’re too cheap not to.
The industry’s biggest names – like Canopy Growth (CGC) and Tilray (TLRY) – are trading at 3X to 5X price/sales multiples. Those mark near all-time-low valuation multiples for the stocks.
At valuations this depressed, the stocks are due for a big, multi-day, perhaps even multi-week bounce on good news.
Watch out for a near-term breakout in cannabis stocks!
Fundamentals Remain Broken
In a multi-month, multi-quarter, and multi-year window, we do not believe the coming bounce in cannabis stocks is sustainable.
The aforementioned legal developments are a tailwind for cannabis demand. But demand has never really been the problem for cannabis stocks. Generally speaking, these companies have been able to retain fairly robust sales growth over the past several years.
Yet, their stocks have been crushed. Why? Profitability.
Take a look at the following chart. The cannabis majors have been successful in growing revenues at a steady pace. But they have not been successful in turning that revenue growth into profits. Profit margins and cash flows remain negative. And there is no improvement in the trend. A lot of these companies are losing more money today than when they were significantly smaller a few years ago!
We believe this lack of profitability is thanks to widespread product commoditization in the cannabis industry.
For most consumers, weed is weed is weed. They can’t tell the difference, and they don’t really care to begin with. Those who do care have already found their favorite brand and will probably stick with it. That means that the resulting competitive landscape is one where the cheapest supplier will sell the most weed.
In an environment like that, it’s almost impossible to drive positive operating leverage. Suppliers are perpetually undercutting one another on pricing.
We do not see any easy or quick fix on the horizon for this commoditization problem. Therefore, we think the profit outlook for cannabis firms is very cloudy. Until that clears up, cannabis stocks will likely remain under pressure.
The Final Word on Cannabis Stocks
Not all hypergrowth investments are created equal.
Sure, by definition, all hypergrowth investments are stocks that are growing very quickly. But good hypergrowth investments are the ones that can turn that rapid growth into huge profits and cash flows.
Cannabis stocks are bad hypergrowth investments. They do not turn huge revenue growth into huge profits…
But electric vehicles stocks are a different story.
The EV industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world. Indeed, it’s growing much faster than cannabis. More importantly, though, it is an industry where the biggest players are generating boatloads of profits and cash flows.
Tesla (TSLA), for example, has produced nearly $10 billion in net profits over the past 12 months alongside $7 billion in free cash flow.
Indeed, EV companies make money.
That’s why we’re pounding the table on EV stocks right now. Forget profitless cannabis stocks. Let’s buy hypergrowth EV stocks that have a clear pathway to huge profits.
And our favorite EV stock to buy right now has an open runway to massive gains.
On the date of publication, Luke Lango did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.