Aurora Cannabis (NYSE:ACB) has pulled back in recent days. ACB stock sold off on a mildly disappointing earnings report and the reshuffling of its board of directors. Furthermore, it faces concerns as many of its peers have moved into the U.S. hemp market ahead of them. However, given production increases and the likelihood of entering the U.S. market soon, I expect Aurora stock to move higher in the near term.
By just about any measure, ACB stock appears expensive. The equity trades at over 56 times sales. Its forward P/E ratio also exceeds 300. Its saving grace is that the other three Canadian cannabis companies among the top four — Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC), Tilray (NASDAQ:TLRY), and Cronos (NASDAQ:CRON) — see similarly outsized financial metrics.
These stocks also cratered after marijuana gained official legal status in Canada. Fortunately for ACB and its peers, the pre-legalization hype returns as the U.S. moves toward nationwide legalization. The Farm Bill signed late last year legalized industrial hemp. This is the segue Canadian companies have begun to use to enter the U.S. market. As more states adopt medical and recreational weed, both the legalization and the stock price hype continue to build.
Concerns Remain for ACB Stock
Admittedly, investors who have become paranoid from too much recreational weed use can find reasons to panic. The Q2 earnings report became a slight disappointment due to excise taxes and lowered net pricing. Moreover, Tilray’s decision to purchase Manitoba Harvest makes it the largest Canadian player in the U.S. hemp industry. This has caused some concern as Aurora has not yet moved into the U.S. hemp market.
Changes in its board of directors may also cause concern. However, this was mostly current board members shifting positions on the board. Chairman of the board Michael Singer is now executive chairman. This will involve Mr. Singer more in the firm’s day-to-day operations.
Still, all this news led to a muted reaction. ACB stock price fell from the mid-$7 per share range to around $7 per share. While I do not think I would classify this as a “buying opportunity,” I also do not see any of this news as a reason to sell ACB stock. The new board arrangement could help the company. Moreover, given Canopy’s and Tilray’s moves into the U.S. hemp market, Aurora will probably follow suit soon.
Moreover, Aurora increased production by 502% on a year-over-year basis, higher than Canopy’s 334% increase. Canopy still produced 10,102 kg in the prior quarter, higher than Aurora’s 6,999 kg. Still, production increases continue as legal weed remains in short supply.
A bigger question for investors likely involves not whether ACB stock will rise, but whether it will outperform its peers. Although I expect Aurora stock to perform well, it is not my favorite in the sector. In this industry, I recommend one of two things. I would either choose Canopy or Tilray as they are the top two stocks. Or, I would go with a relative value play such as HEXO (NYSEAMERICAN:HEXO) or CannTrust (NYSE:CTST). Their comparatively low P/E ratios make them possible buyout candidates. If that does not happen, they could catch up to larger peers on valuation over time.
The Bottom Line on ACB Stock
Nonetheless, Aurora should move higher soon due to production increases and a likely move into the new U.S. hemp market. Yes, earnings slightly disappointed investors. And the lack of an announcement on U.S. hemp may also concern some investors. Even if a CGC or a TLRY become a better buy, I see ACB stock moving higher.
Yes, it is expensive, but so are most of its peers. Legal cannabis remains in short supply, and Aurora continues to increase production. Also, assuming it wants to remain among the four largest cannabis stocks, one can safely assume that plans are underway to enter the U.S. hemp market.
For these reasons, I do not think stockholders should worry about whether Aurora will rise. I think the bigger question involves whether ACB will perform better than its peers? Only time can answer that question.
As of this writing, Will Healy is long CTST stock. You can follow Will on Twitter at @HealyWriting.