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Over the past few weeks, shares of Aurora Cannabis (ACB) have been on one almighty run, accumulating gains of 147% since November 4. The recent run has more to do with a change in sentiment toward the cannabis industry as a whole and less a reflection of a change in fundamentals. Joe Biden’s presidential win and the legislation of marijuana use in several U.S. states have been responsible for an industry wide uptick.
However, the year has been no bed of roses for the former Canadian cannabis boom high-flyer; Despite the surge, Aurora Cannabis stock is still 58% into the red in 2020.
MKM analyst William Kirk warns investors the share gains might be temporary as Aurora still faces the same profitability and structural issues as before.
The latest setback is that Aurora is indefinitely pausing operations at its Aurora Sun facility in Medicine Hat, Alberta.
The facility’s output comprises 250,000kgs of annual production, amounting to approximately 50% of Aurora’s "funded capacity." With a modus operandi to produce the “most efficient dry flower,” Aurora Sun was meant to be the company’s “marquee production asset.”
Aurora splashed out accordingly. By September 2019, C$100 million was poured into the facility. However, as early as November 2019 construction delays emerged, and “dedicated funding was eliminated” in February 2020.
“Between Aurora Sun and the Exeter closing (early 2020),” Kirk notes, “Over 70% of Aurora's funded capacity has been shuttered.”
While the company is taking steps to “better align production and demand,” It appears no closer to solving the “supply/demand equilibrium.” In FY20, Aurora grew 152,740 kgs of cannabis but only sold 51,653 kgs. Despite the latest move, Kirk doesn’t expect the situation to improve in the short term.
“We still have difficulty envisioning Aurora achieving positive adjusted EBITDA in 2Q’21,” Kirk said. “We don’t see a cost-cutting or growth path that gets to positive by calendar year-end. Pricing pressure remains in the Canadian market, and Aurora’s strategy to push existing grows into more premium price points seems like a recipe for consumer/province frustration or confusion. Prior period harvests (in excess of amounts sold) will continue to be difficult to sell. While Aurora's cost to grow is low, it would be more noteworthy if a larger percentage of the harvests were sellable.”
Pointedly, Kirk further adds, “In an industry with sequential growth, Aurora sold less product in 1Q'21 than it did in 4Q'19.”
As a result, Kirk rates ACB a Neutral (i.e. Hold) along with a C$9.00 ($6.95) price target. This figure implies a steep 36% decline from current levels. (To watch Kirk’s track record, click here)
Most of Kirk’s colleagues agree. Based on 12 Holds and 3 Sells, ACB stock has a Hold consensus rating. At C$9.67 ($7.46), the average price target suggests downside of 31% in the year ahead. (See ACB stock analysis on TipRanks)
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analyst. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.