Pot stocks have been outstanding growth vehicles for the better part of the past two years. The legalization of adult-use marijuana in Canada, the slow but steady march toward widespread legalization in the United States, and the 2018 Farm Bill -- that essentially legalized hemp -- all helped to drive valuations higher across the industry during this period.
The industry's meteoric rise, though, has suddenly lost nearly all of its momentum over the past few weeks thanks to several weaker-than-expected earnings reports, mounting quarterly losses for almost every single publicly traded entity, more than a few abrupt leadership changes, the growing concern that the United States may not change marijuana's status as a Schedule I drug anytime soon, and a handful of high-profile scandals.
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This vortex of bad news -- which has brought the legal marijuana space crashing back to Earth -- does have a clear upside for investors with a long-term outlook, though. Namely, there are a select few marijuana stocks that actually qualify as dyed-in-the-wool value plays following this turbulent period.
In particular, Canada's OrganiGram Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: OGI) comes across as an outstanding bargain at current levels. The company is currently trading at right around eight times next year's sales, which is one of the lowest valuations within its immediate peer group.
Should cannabis investors pounce on this cheap pot stock? Let's have a look under the hood to find out.
OrganiGram's core value proposition and key risk factors
OrganiGram has five key pillars to its underlying investing thesis:
- Near-industry low cost of production due to a unique three-tier indoor growing system, customized automated packaging equipment, and a proprietary information technology system called OrganiGrow that closely tracks grow cycles, strain, room, and other critical environmental conditions.
- Exceptional quality and strong brand recognition for its dried flower products. In 2018, for instance, OrganiGram received a whopping nine nominations from the Canadian Cannabis Awards, including top sativa, top indica, and cannabis product of the year.
- A broad approach to deep value creation centering on the development of next-generation vape products, edibles, beverages, and international expansion. In fact, OrganiGram is one of only two Canadian licensed producers currently exploring the production of cannabinoids via biosynthesis.
- A clear entry point into the high-value industrial hemp space through collaborations with both 1812 Hemp and Eviana.
- Lastly, OrganiGram sports a fairly strong balance sheet despite its ongoing expansion efforts. Underscoring this point, the company had approximately 88 million Canadian dollars in cash and short-term investments, as well as a CA$140 million credit facility with the Bank of Montreal at the end of the most recent quarter.
Are there any glaring downsides associated with this cheap pot stock? OrganiGram does have two obvious weaknesses. Despite its peak production capacity of 113,000 kilograms of cannabis per year, the company remains well outside of the top five licensed producers in Canada in terms of projected annual output. That may not matter at the end of the day given OrganiGram's far more cost-efficient growing platform, but the company doesn't have the type of economy of scale its chief competitors have at the moment.
Secondly, OrganiGram lacks a big money partner right now, which may be a necessity to truly expand into highly fragmented and competitive international markets such as the U.S. and Europe. A go-it-alone approach, after all, could force the company to continually tap the public markets for capital, diluting current shareholders in the process. That's far from optimal from a value creation standpoint.
Time to buy?
The long and short of it is that OrganiGram could very well be the next Canadian pot cultivator to land a major partnering deal, which speaks volumes about the gold star performance of the company's brain trust. OrganiGram, after all, sports a best-in-class growing platform, top-notch dried flower strains, and a forward-looking approach to value creation.
OrganiGram may not ultimately attract a coveted Fortune 500 partner, but the company has at least put itself into the conversation, even though it lacks the operational bandwidth of rivals like Aurora Cannabis. That singular fact arguably bodes extremely well for the company's long-term prospects. Therefore, risk-tolerant investors may indeed want to take a closer look at this comparatively cheap pot stock right now.
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