If you bought Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC) on the last day of 2018, you’re sitting on a total, annualized return of almost 1,000% from CGC stock as of Jan. 25. There’s no way to describe this kind of gain except to say, “WOW!”
By comparison, another Canadian marijuana stock, Tilray (NASDAQ:TLRY), is stuck in neutral, as TLRY stock is up a miserable 7% in 2019, on par with the S&P 500.
Given the performance discrepancy, I have three questions.
Can Anything Send Tilray Stock Skyward?
If you’re a Peter Thiel fan, you might be aware that the billionaire’s venture capital company, Founders Fund, backs Privateer Holdings, an investment firm that owns 75 million shares of Tilray stock. Investors were concerned that once the Tilray lock-up period expires, Privateer would look to sell its Tilray stock. Privateer put that question to rest on Jan. 11.
“Privateer Holdings strongly believes in Tilray’s long-term global growth strategy and pioneering role in shaping the future of the legal cannabis industry,” said Michael Blue, managing partner of Privateer in a statement. “Given this, we do not have plans to register, sell or distribute the shares Privateer holds in Tilray during the first half of 2019.”
That doesn’t mean that Privateer won’t sell some of its Tilray stock in the second half of the year, but at least the vote of confidence keeps a relative floor on the price of Tilray stock through June. As long as TLRY keeps improving its cannabis products, Tilray stock has a good chance to reach $100.
Around the same time that Privateer was calming the owners of Tilray stock; I was suggesting that some of the company’s deals, including a partnership with Anheuser-Busch (NYSE:BUD) to research cannabis-infused drinks, while newsworthy, wouldn’t do much for Tilray stock in the near-term.
The same holds for its more recent, $350 million deal with Authentic Brands, a New York-based brand developer.
So unless Tilray announces sometime in 2019 that BUD is investing in Tilray, I don’t think the company’s actual production revenues or its upcoming partnerships will add enough fuel to the fire to enable Tilray stock to perform as well as CGC stock this year.
Of course, I’m assuming that CGC stock won’t be hit by a material, adverse event in 2019 .
Could Anything Hurt CGC Stock?
An obvious, theoretically possible material negative event for Canaopy Growth stock would be a decision by Constellation Brands (NYSE:STZ) to rescind its $4 billion investment in Canopy by unloading its shares of CGC stock, but that wo’;t happen for two reasons.
The first reason is that Constellation Brands wouldn’t get a decent price for its shares because the news would cause Canopy Growth stock to plunge. And frankly, I don’t know if STZ is prohibited by the deal from selling its shares of CGC stock, but such a restriction would make sense.
Secondly, Constellation needs Canopy as much as Canopy needs Constellation.
People are drinking less alcohol these days, and Cannabis-infused drinks give Constellation a fourth major product beyond beer, wine, and spirits. Constellation will benefit too much from the deal to walk away from it.
“Nobody knows the exact answer other than (Cannabis-infused drinks) are going to be big,” Constellation CEO Bill Newlands said. “What we realized was the most efficient and effective way to win was to put everything behind Canopy.”
I would tend to agree. That’s why I suggested last July that investors hedge their Canopy bets by buying STZ stock along with CGC stock and one of the marijuana ETFs.
Others aren’t convinced that Constellation made a smart move.
“Quite simply, I think it was a bad move,” says Caroline Levy, an analyst at Macquarie Capital in New York. “They paid way too much money in an industry that’s going to be very competitive in the foreseeable future.”
Most likely, nobody will know whether the deal was good or bad for STZ until 2020 or beyond.
Is This Race a Foregone Conclusion?
Reversion to the mean suggests that Tilray stock probably has more upside for the remainder of 2019 than Canopy Growth stock does.
That said, I still believe that CGC stock not Tilray stock, is the best Canadian marijuana name to own in 2019.
I guess we’ll see in about 11 months.
As of this writing, Will Ashworth did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.