Due to increasing political pressure and public discontent, the pharmaceutical industry, as well as healthcare in general, has gone volatile. For instance, the benchmark exchange-traded fund VanEck Vectors Pharmaceutical ETF (NASDAQ:PPH) is down 4% since the beginning of March. A notable exception? GW Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:GWPH) stock.
A few days ahead of its second quarter of fiscal 2019 earnings report, GW Pharmaceuticals stock is making a case for itself. A recent series of consecutive upswings should bring April returns back into positive territory. For the year, GWPH is looking at a gain of over 70% from December lows, well above its peers in the sector.
Then again, GWPH stock isn’t quite like other pharmaceuticals. As I and my InvestorPlace colleagues mentioned, this is a marijuana company that does pharmaceuticals, not the other way around. Therefore, these shares don’t have the same catalysts, nor the same headwinds as traditional sector players.
And that has proven to be a good thing right now. With rising furor, politicians, particularly from the left, have expressed outrage at soaring drug prices. Not only that, there’s popular Democrats support Senator Bernie Sanders’ proposal, the “Medicare for All Act.”
Since President Donald Trump isn’t exactly winning hearts and minds, it’s very possible that the Democrats will win the White House. If so, that doesn’t bode well for pharmaceutical firms who have gone somewhat dependent on ridiculous drug pricing. However, GW Pharmaceuticals stock remains relatively untouched.
Here’s the thing: I don’t expect this trend to change dramatically. In many ways, GWPH stock is the Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) of healthcare: their core ingredient, cannabis, is dirt cheap. Therefore, the underlying company has the ability to disrupt the drug-making industry like no one’s business.
That’s a key consideration as we look toward Q2.
GWPH Stock Should Fly on an Incident-free Report
For its earnings report scheduled for May 6, I’m not expecting much fireworks. I believe that as long as management keeps the metrics in line with what we’ve seen with other marijuana companies, GWPH stock could fly.
Consensus estimates peg earnings per share at a loss of 20 cents. This is right in the middle of individual estimates, which range from a loss of 25 cents to -15 cents. In the year-ago quarter, GWPH delivered a loss of 26 cents.
On the revenue side, covering analysts are targeting $26 million. Individual estimates vary wildly here, ranging from $10.8 million to $37 million. In Q2 2018, the company rang up only $3.4 million.
Based on everything we’ve seen from cannabis stocks, I expect GWPH to outperform in sales. More people are open to marijuana than ever before, which explains why sector players have enjoyed a revenue surge. However, I’d like the organization to at least hit its EPS target. As long as there are no ugly surprises here, GW Pharmaceuticals stock should take off.
I’m not just saying that from a gut reaction perspective. Medical-cannabis competitors such as Emerald Health Therapeutics (OTCMKTS:EMHTF) and CannTrust (NYSE:CTST) have also performed well in the markets this year. The former is up 38.4% year-to-date, while the latter — although incurring significant choppiness — is up over 50% YTD.
Plus, management can do a lot of good for GWPH stock with a strong narrative. Unlike companies specializing in recreational weed, GW Pharmaceuticals has the medicinal angle. It also has moral leverage.
Essentially, the opioid crisis is an unintended byproduct of the traditional pharmaceutical industry. With its focus on natural treatments, GWPH stock has an edge that its mainstream rivals do not.
Strong Tailwinds for GW Pharmaceuticals Stock
Given the rancor in the pharmaceuticals space, I’m cautious on most names within the segment. But I have no such reservations for GWPH stock.
As I mentioned earlier, this is a disruptive organization. The company is geared toward producing and cultivating a relatively cheap ingredient. In addition, management doesn’t have to spend billions in research fine-tuning some exotic concoction in a high-tech laboratory. Instead, they just need to tweak an almost-turnkey product to better address specific symptoms.
Better yet, cannabis has a long history of medicinal usage. It’s virtually guaranteed that GWPH will avoid an epidemic like the current opioid crisis. Plus, with non-psychoactive cannabis products like cannabidiol, or CBD, gaining traction, management has further leverage and options.
Finally, policies like the Medicare for All Act benefit GW Pharmaceuticals stock. Again, cannabis is cheap, and the company is built around this cheap product. It’s dissimilar to mainstream drug-makers, who are accused of growing fat on ill-gotten gains, and are now facing a comeuppance. Under this backdrop, I believe GWPH deserves your serious consideration.
As of this writing, Josh Enomoto did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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