Tilray (NASDAQ:TLRY) announced on Dec. 18 that it was expanding its partnership with Sandoz, part of drug giant Novartis (NYSE:NVS). Under the deal, which caused Tilray stock to rally, Sandoz’s global-sales team will market Tilray’s medical-cannabis products.
Four days later, Tilray announced that it was partnering with Anheuser-Busch (NYSE:BUD) to research cannabis-infused drinks. That news also created a buzz around Tilray stock.
Inevitably, as cannabis companies in Canada and elsewhere stake their claims to different parts of the cannabis industry, comparisons will be made to the Gold Rush of the 1800s.
And as in the days of the Gold Rush, there will be winners, losers, and posers.
Is Tilray Stock a Winner, a Loser or a Poser?
Unlike Cronos Group (NASDAQ:CRON) and Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC), Tilray isn’t interested in getting investments from large companies, as TLRY prefers to remain completely independent.
“We obviously want to partner with other global pioneers and other leaders in their respective sectors,” Tilray CEO Brendan Kennedy said about the partnerships. “We think it’s too early to give up control of our own destiny.”
Those appear to be the words of someone who’s going to remain CEO of an independent TLRY for a long time. Of course, it could also be PR speak for “We haven’t gotten the right offer just yet.”
Whatever the true motivations of Tilray’s CEO and board, its partnerships could prove to be very beneficial for Tilray stock over the long-term.
However, it’s not uncommon for big, multinational companies to blow hot and cold. Either of Tilray’s partners could lose interest, pay a breakup fee, and end the partnership.
Getting a big investment like the one that Canopy’s gotten from Constellation Brands (NYSE:STZ) is far more permanent; it’s also a sign that Canopy is serious about being a smaller piece of a much bigger pie.
Tilray might believe that it’s in control of its destiny at the moment, but it can lose that control very quickly.
TLRY had operating losses of $34 million on $27.6 million in sales through the first nine months of its fiscal year. To win the cannabis wars, companies need deep pockets and experience.
Canopy has both. Tilray doesn’t.
It’s Not a Poser
I don’t think there’s any way you can consider Tilray a poser. Anheuser-Busch and Sandoz wouldn’t have signed on to these deals if they had a sniff of doubt about Tilray’s bona fides.
However, as InvestorPlace’s Luke Lango pointed out in late December, the BUD partnership is not a huge catalyst that can move TLRY stock back into triple digits.
“A $50 million commitment from AB InBev (a $130 billion company) is a drop in the ocean,” Lango stated in an article published on Dec. 28. “The language in the press release also doesn’t imply that AB InBev and Tilray will be ‘lifetime partners,’ and that stands in stark contrast to the bullish language in the Cronos and Canopy deal press releases.”
Tilray’s CEO, Brendan Kennedy, believes that there will be three cannabis companies with $100 billion valuations, and he hopes that Tilray stock will be one of them. He also thinks that Tilray will be one of three companies in the sector with annual sales of $50 billion.
That seems brash for a company that’s projected to generate just $140 million of sales in 2019. Kennedy might want to tone down the rhetoric because it likely will come back to bite him in the rear end.
The Bottom Line on Tilray Stock
While Tilray has been in the news a lot in recent weeks, the company’s dealmaking has done little to move TLRY stock.
Tilray stock can only rise meaningfully if the company delivers better results in the fourth quarter or if it changes its philosophy and sells a chunk of its business to a company like Diageo (NYSE:DEO).
Investors want results now.
That’s a terrible situation for companies like Tilray that have long-range plans.
As of this writing, Will Ashworth did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.