Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC) just announced that it plans to invest up to $150 million in New York state to target the emerging market for cannabis products derived from hemp, but it’s not the only marijuana company that investors ought to be paying close attention to. Aphria (NYSE:APHA) has just announced a leadership shake-up, CannTrust (NASDAQOTH:CNTTF) has said it plans to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange, and I think Cronos Group (NASDAQ:CRON) could be the next company to follow Canopy Growth’s lead and announce a U.S. hemp strategy…
Could this company be the next to announce a U.S. strategy?
In December, Cronos Group made a big splash when it announced that tobacco giant Altria (NYSE:MO) was handing it a pile of cash and know-how in exchange for a 45% equity stake and the chance to increase that position by an additional 10% within four years.
The $1.8 billion influx of capital to Cronos Group’s balance sheet from the deal immediately elevated it to must-watch status in the burgeoning marijuana market, because the new financial firepower should allow it to move quickly when opportunity strikes, such as the recent passage of the U.S. Farm Bill.
Marijuana is still illegal federally in the U.S., but the Farm Bill that was passed in December includes language that removes hemp, a low-THC cannabis strain, from the controlled substance list, allowing farmers to ramp up production and companies like Canopy Growth, and perhaps Cronos Group, to start selling hemp-derived products in America.
The potential to profit from a move into the U.S. shouldn’t be underestimated. America’s cannabis market is far bigger than Canada’s, and cannabis extracts, including cannabidiol oil, already rack up hundreds of millions of dollars in sales there. About $50 billion is spent on marijuana in the U.S. annually, while Canada’s sales are only expected to be up to 7 billion Canadian dollars in 2019.
There’s no telling when Cronos Group will target the U.S. market, but Altria has a long history of dominating the tobacco market with brands like Marlboro, and it’s got the regulatory and marketing experience and resources necessary for Cronos Group to build a winning product lineup for the U.S. marketplace.
The latest to leap to the NYSE
CannTrust is targeting 100,000 kilograms of annual production capacity. If it can deliver on that goal, it will be among the biggest Canadian pot stocks.
In December, CannTrust said it’s on track to finish an expansion that will increase its production to 50,000 kilograms annually, but its plans toward 100,000 kilograms have hit a roadblock. An interim bylaw passed by the municipality in which CannTrust had planned its additional projects has delayed permitting, forcing management to explore options, including other locations. It’s unclear when management will overcome this setback, but I suspect investors will get more insight soon given the money that’s at stake.
Investors will also want to pay attention to CannTrust press releases, because it announced earlier this month that it’s…
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