Ah, the magic of analyst ratings! After a tough month in April, cannabis firm Hexo (NYSEAmerican:HEXO) suddenly reversed course after Bank of America analyst Christopher Carey initiated coverage. Sizing up the risk and reward profile, Carey assigned a “buy” rating on Hexo stock with a $10 price target.
The news couldn’t have come at a better time. While cannabis stocks offer tremendous upside because they essentially materialize an industry that previously never existed, they’re also incredibly volatile. Because this is an unprecedented sector, many investors are unsure how to approach a company like HEXO.
As such, I mentioned earlier that I liked Hexo stock, even compared to relative heavyweight Aurora Cannabis (NYSE:ACB). Unfortunately, the aforementioned volatility in cannabis stocks disproportionately impacted HEXO, sending my recommendation toward a quick grave. But thanks to Carey, this bad boy gained nearly 12% on Wednesday.
Of course, by the time that you’re reading this, this dramatic burst in Hexo stock is in the past. Do newcomers still have a chance in riding this promising, but wild bull?
Underappreciated Elements Support Hexo Stock
The best way I can characterize Hexo stock is as a diamond in the rough. I believe the organization has the right components in place to make a solid run. However, the credibility issues that stymie virtually all cannabis stocks will pressure HEXO. At the end of the day, it comes down to your risk tolerance.
But if you’re willing to take that leap, Carey argues that this weed play deserves your attention. Primarily, HEXO stock is undervalued relative to its peers. Of course, in the marijuana sector, “undervalued” is an extremely relative term. That said, many cannabis stocks have hit nosebleed levels. Therefore, HEXO at least on paper provides some assurance of future room for growth.
Next, the BofA analyst mentioned that Hexo stock is levered toward a “de-risked” Canadian cannabis market. Although I wouldn’t use that term specifically, I see his point. Our northern neighbors paved the way for other western and developed nations to adopt tolerant policies. While this broader dynamic is building out, management has time to hone its craft.
Finally, Carey mentioned “value-add partnerships” that go beyond the scope of Hexo’s existent relationship with Molson Coors Brewing (NYSE:TAP). I agree. Cannabis stocks can branch out into subsegments of the broader categories of recreational and medicinal usage. However, let’s not gloss over the Molson partnership as it holds a significant key for growth.
Naturally, the idea here is for Hexo and Molson to developed cannabidiol (CBD)-infused drinks. Now, CBD itself is a tailwind for the industry as it offers non-psychoactive exposure to the cannabis plant. In other words, it’s a lot easier to introduce people to weed through a drink rather than a joint.
Upgrade Suggests Rising Credibility for Cannabis Stocks
Indeed, Hexo’s Molson partnership has advantages over an expected synergy like Cronos Group (NASDAQ:CRON) and Altria Group (NYSE:MO). I don’t think I can ever get my parents to smoke marijuana. But to drink it in a form that won’t get them stoned? That’s infinitely more palatable and more socially acceptable.
Invariably, that had to enter BofA’s thinking process when deciding to go bullish on Hexo stock. But just the fact that the big bank is even considering cannabis stocks is a major sign. It gives the industry significant credibility, and it suggests a very viable environment in the future.
While we here in the U.S. have also warmed to varying degrees of legalization, most banks won’t finance cannabis-related businesses. Why? Because it comes down to that nasty roadblock called Schedule I. Despite individual state laws, cannabis falls under strict federal guidelines.
Sure, we’ve made progress in this department, too. For instance, the 2018 farm bill won consensus at a time when bipartisanship no longer exists. And major conservative figures have more or less voiced support for full legalization.
Nevertheless, that Schedule I classification remains on the books for marijuana. Unless the federal government officially extinguishes it, most banks won’t touch cannabis stocks.
And while BofA isn’t necessarily diving into the sector with open arms, it’s essentially giving you the green light to do so. Look, Hexo stock is a risky play no matter how you cut it. But if you’ve got the nerve, I’d read between the lines.
As of this writing, Josh Enomoto did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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