For years now, Aurora Cannabis (ACB) and Canopy Growth (CGC) have traded in near lockstep based on the global growth potential of cannabis. The latest quarterly results set Aurora Cannabis a step ahead of their prime competitor in Canada.
Aurora Cannabis reported an exceptional turnaround quarter for March, but the stock has taken a hit following the weak Canopy Growth results at the end of May. Oddly, Aurora Cannabis now appears better positioned to thrive having already had to tighten their financial purse strings due to cash concerns.
Value Brand Shift
Canopy Growth called out a prime reason for their failure to hit revenue targets in the March quarter due to the market shift to value brands. Aurora Cannabis made this move to shift production towards the value brand Daily Special in early Q1.
For this reason, Aurora Cannabis saw recreational cannabis sales grow sequentially by C$8 million to C$42 million. Canopy Growth saw recreational cannabis slip by C$20 million to C$49 million. Canopy Growth was too busy focused on the struggling cannabis beverages startup and missed the recreational cannabis shift to more affordable products to compete against illegal weed.
Aurora Cannabis has already shown an ability to shift quicker than Canopy Growth. The latter is still going through a complete leadership change with executives from the liquor sector possibly not as familiar with cannabis.
Focus, Focus, Focus
One of my biggest complaints about the Canadian cannabis LPs was the focus on global operations. The companies were going after massive markets in Canada, the U.S. and in Europe, Latin America, Australia and even Africa. The vast operations made little sense for companies trying to build new markets. Building market share in recreational cannabis in Canada and CBD in the U.S. was more than complicated enough for executive leaders to not need further operations in Germany, Columbia or Australia.
Aurora Cannabis made the decision in February to reduce operating costs by over 50% to below C$45 million per quarter. The company shifted out of most international locations with a focused shifted to Canada, U.S. and Germany.
The Canadian company has a singular focus on profitable growth now while Canopy Growth still appears to be investing in money losing businesses for a payoff in out years. Aurora Cannabis now has the upper hand here with a path to EBITDA profits in the September quarter while Canopy Growth pulled guidance for the rest of the year while generating substantial EBITDA losses in the March quarter.
C$27 Price Target
What would you tell someone if they were to ask you, “Should I buy Aurora Cannabis stock right now?” For Cantor analyst Pablo Zuanic the answer is quite clear — the analyst sees the stock as a plant that keeps blossoming.
"ACB is a company with a credible turnaround plan, not going bust, and with little further dilution risk. ACB is a close #2 in Canada rec to Canopy Growth; it is #1 in Canada med with share north of 40%; and it has reconfigured its international business, but its opportunities are not less than those of peers," Zuanic noted.
Wieser rates ACB a Buy along with a C$27 price target, which implies nearly 50% upside from current levels.
The key investor takeaway is that the valuation equation for Aurora Cannabis is far more compelling here as the market has pushed the stock back down below $14. The stock has a far better valuation at $1.5 billion with FY21 sales estimates near $300 million while Canopy Growth trades at $6.3 billion with sales estimates near $400 million.
Aurora Cannabis is a far better deal, if an investor can purchase the stock closer to my $10 target. Regardless, the company has leap frogged Canopy Growth as the better investment due to their improved financials.
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Disclosure: No position.