The COVID-19 virus has affected Australian cannabis investment, but one corporate finance expert said there’s been an influx of money lately.

On Monday (June 22), during the first day of this year’s Prohibition Partners Live event, a panel of expert commentators discussed the adoption of cannabis stocks among investors and the larger marijuana business from an Australian perspective.


The panel consisted of Sean Kennedy, corporate finance director with PAC Partners, and Peter Crock, CEO of Cann Group (ASX:CAN,OTC Pink:CNGGF).

 

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When asked about capital challenges caused by the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Kennedy said companies on his radar saw extreme lows in March, but since then there’s been cash coming in from specific types of investors in Australia.

“There’s a lot of money in our pension market looking for alpha, looking for investment return,” Kennedy told listeners at the online event.

According to the investment executive, following the global lows at the end of March he noticed a sense of “desperation rising” as companies attempted to run solvent. Later on, this transformed into opportunistic deals in which pieces of companies became available at what Kennedy referred to as reasonable discounts.

“A lot of money has been raised in the Australian markets in the past two months,” he continued. “Investment bankers are very busy.”

Kennedy said currently Australian cannabis companies have options available when it comes to capital raises, but there are conditions attached. He explained that if an asset is struggling, there will be a steep discount attached to the raise, while if the deal is designed to take advantage of the difficult global landscape then a more humble discount will be in place.

PAC Partners is a Melbourne-based investment services firm and has participated in deal-launching movements for various Australian cannabis firms, including Cann Group.

Cann Group is a medical cannabis firm working to expand the access of medical patients in Australia. The firm has a cultivation license from the Australian government.

Given the construction of the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) and its predominantly venture-size offerings, Australian investors are the perfect target for cannabis investments given their higher risk tolerance, according to Kennedy.

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The investment executive went on to say there’s been a progression in the evaluation of cannabis names for Australian investors. At the beginning, the industry was closely watched for hype and tended to live on excitement rather than fundamentals.

The investment expert said these days investors are asking to see positive earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), a staple metric for the industry.

According to Kennedy, investors are also looking for support for the cash flow plans attached to companies’ business models and opportunities.

For his part, Crock told the audience he has noticed an increase in debt investment from banks in particular for cannabis companies. This observation was supported by Kennedy.

When asked about the right timing for an Australian firm to go public on the ASX, Kennedy explained that at the launch of the marijuana market in Australia it was crucial for companies to have support from a Canadian cannabis counterpart as it showed tremendous validation for the Australian operation.

However, that is no longer the case — Kennedy explained that Canadians have become much more inverted when it comes to international exploration.

In fact, several Canadian names pulled back on international ventures and partnerships once it became apparent that their cash flow would not be able to meet the demands of an expansive international business, especially as losses for Canadian cannabis corporations continued to expand in the summer of 2019 leading into 2020.

“We probably don’t need them as much in Australia now as a validator to a quality company,” Kennedy told the audience at the event.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time news updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Bryan Mc Govern, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

 

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The Company Will Tap into Southern Glazer’s Established Distribution Network to Bring Quatreau, its CBD-Infused Sparkling Water, to U.S. Retailers

 Canopy Growth Corporation (“Canopy Growth”) (TSX: WEED) (NASDAQ: CGC), a world-leading diversified cannabis, CBD and vaporization device company, today announced Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits (“Southern Glazer’s”), the world’s pre-eminent distributor of beverage alcohol, as the distribution partner for its U.S. portfolio of CBD-infused beverages. This partnership announcement follows the recent launch of Quatreau Canopy’s first line of CBD-infused beverages sold in the U.S market.

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Cannabis Market Update: Q3 2020 in Review

Click here to read the previous cannabis market update.

During the first few months of investment time in 2021, cannabis faced some volatility alongside optimism about federal changes in the most important market for the drug.

The cannabis business found its stride during Q1 thanks to policy change signals and consolidation.

To find out more, the Investing News Network (INN) asked experts about progress in the market during the first major period of the new year, and which developments investors should watch out for.

 

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Cannabis market update: New York and US potential boost operations

New York state’s legalization of recreational cannabis was a huge Q1 announcement that added pressure to the US federal government when it comes to cannabis policy, said George Mancheril, co-founder and CEO of Bespoke Financial, a debt financing business with a particular focus on servicing cannabis businesses.

“It’s going to add to the chorus of voices in the federal scene to basically move sooner rather than later,” he explained to INN.

Following the US election in 2020, the momentum for cannabis businesses went on the upswing, as did company valuations, with the idea of expansion at the heart of it all, according to Mancheril.

Before starting Bespoke Financial, Mancheril learned from traditional investment banks, working in the lending, fixed income and debt markets with Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) and Guggenheim Partners.

Nawan Butt, portfolio manager with Purpose Investments, agrees with Mancheril. The financial expert told INN the ongoing legalization process seen in the US market is leading to expansion.

“It’s becoming more of a national move, then small pockets of proliferation. That’s very exciting about cannabis right now,” said Butt, who co-manages the Purpose Marijuana Opportunities Fund (NEO:MJJ).

This proliferation effect is causing a change in valuations and enthusiasm for US-based operations. Mancheril told INN that by the end of Q1, multi-state operators (MSOs) had raised approximately US$3.3 billion.

The cannabis lender said he sees the industry as having grown from the woes of 2019; it is now undergoing a return to form as excitement about the US opening up increases.

The expert explained that there is likely to be a windfall of capital in the wake of major federal changes in US cannabis policy, although the timeline for these changes is becoming increasingly hard to predict.

Leading up to that capital influx, Mancheril said he wants to see operators really drill down on the value of desired assets and whether they make sense.

“What I’d hope is that we continue to see bullish sentiment, but with some measure of responsibility, and let’s not just get over ahead of ourselves,” Mancheril told INN. “The idea is let’s minimize the volatility and continue growing responsibly.”

 

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As far as struggles go, Butt explained that the cannabis industry has cemented itself as a growth-type sector, and as such there are macro pressures affecting the way these assets operate.

“We’ve seen this preference for cash flows at growth in the current or in the near future, rather than in the far future, and that’s what we’re seeing as far as valuations go in the broad market,” Butt said.

Cannabis market update: Volatility continues to rule as industry foundations build

Despite the industry’s potential and the growing pains it has gone through as a whole in both the US and Canada, volatility remains a key factor in the cannabis investment scene.

Butt explained that the current shareholder base, which is dominated by hedge funds and retail investors, still lacks enough institutional support to avoid the day-to-day volatility cannabis has come to be known for.

These two investor groups, Butt said, can be easily spooked and excited by the news of the day when it comes to their investments.

“A lot of these institutions’ strategies are not about short-term profits, but they’re about long-term sustainability of the businesses themselves,” Butt said.

“That’s why you see a lot of volatility in the space, and that’s essentially what we’ve seen over the past, I’d say, three to two months as well,” he added.

That means investors shouldn’t expect an end to volatility anytime soon.

“It’s not about whether we continue to expect volatility, because we do,” Butt said. “We really think that the volatility will be taken out when the shareholder base becomes more institutional, but it’s really about understanding why there is volatility in the first place.”

Cannabis market update: Canadians talk up US business, but questions remain

A surge of mergers and acquisitions has taken over the Canadian cannabis sector recently as more producers see potential in America.

One of the biggest announcements in this regard came when Organigram Holdings (NASDAQ:OGI,TSX:OGI) secured a C$221 million investment deal from British American Tobacco (NYSE:BTI,LSE:BATS).

Using the funds, the two will work in tandem to develop new branded products designed for the international stage, including in the US. Organigram CEO Greg Engel previously told INN that the US represents a critical opportunity for Canadian companies, but the entry point isn’t as clean as it could be.

 

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While the long-term potential may be exciting for investors, Butt told INN he’s still unsure how the approach will work for Canadian companies.

The Purpose Investments expert said there will be plenty of space for the biggest Canadian names to pursue US market entries, beyond the initial hemp-derived CBD moves some operators have mde, since the US represents the biggest market in the world.

“But there’s just way too many unknowns right now to say exactly what that participation is going to look like, or when that participation will happen,” he said.

“What we do know is that currently the US MSOs are in a wonderful sort of position to expand on their market leadership that they have. And it will be tough for Canadians to come in and compete with them,” Butt said.

Canadian players still retain the upper hand at times in terms of valuation, which is confusing for both Butt and Dan Ahrens, chief operating officer and portfolio manager at AdvisorShares.

“The performance in quarterly earnings of US companies has been rather spectacular. They’ve knocked it out of the park in most instances,” Ahrens told INN.

Butt praised the recent performance reports from MSOs across the board, pointing to year-over-year growth lines and projections for continued positive performance. In his view, share prices still don’t reflect company value. “Those are really being discounted at this point,” Butt told INN.

“We’ve seen the Canadian licensed producers be really hot stock performance-wise, outpacing the US (MSOs), and I’ll say it’s rather nonsensical to me,” said Ahrens, who oversees the AdvisorShares Pure Cannabis ETF (ARCA:YOLO) and the recently launched AdvisorShares Pure US Cannabis ETF (ARCA:MSOS).

Cannabis market update: Investor takeaway

The cannabis investment proposition finds itself at an interesting moment in time, as the entire sector eagerly awaits confirmation in the US at the federal level.

While for the Canadian companies waiting on the sidelines, this development may feel like a major necessity to address current financial struggles, for US-based operators, the heat around the corner could represent future positivity for already thriving operations.

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 Trulieve Cannabis Corp. (“Trulieve” or the “Company”) (CSE: TRUL) (OTC: TCNNF), a leading and top-performing cannabis company in the United States will release its first quarter 2021 financial results on Thursday, May 13, 2021 before markets open. Following the earnings release, management will host a conference call at 8:30 AM Eastern Time to review the financial results.

All interested parties can join the conference call by dialing 1-888-231-8191 or 1-647-427-7450, conference ID: 4880609. Please dial in 15 minutes prior to the call to secure a line. The conference call will be archived for replay until May 20, 2021 . To access the archived conference call, please dial 1-855-859-2056 and enter the encore code 4880609.

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