Until recently, it was tough to invest in marijuana stocks. The option was either to purchase securities on foreign exchanges — such as in Canada — or on the over-the-counter (OTC) markets. But as the marijuana market has gone mainstream, we have seen more companies list on major U.S. exchanges. The next company looking to make the switch is Village Farms International (OTCMKTS:VFFIF). VFFIF stock recently announced plans to trade on the NASDAQ.
The transitions make sense both for the companies and for investors. Over-the-counter venues generally provide less liquidity and transparency, such as with financial reports. Some past pot stocks that have made this transition before VFFIF include Cronos Group (NASDAQ:CRON), Tilray (NASDAQ:TLRY), Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC) and Aurora Cannabis (NYSE:ACB).
VFFIF stock plans to trade under the symbol VFF (the shares will still be traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange). Now this is not an IPO, which involves the raising of capital with an issuance of new shares to the public.
But the listing on NASDAQ should still be benefit for the company. Village Farms International stock will widen its investor base, especially with institutions, and VFFIF stock will be in a more reliable currency for acquisitions. Keep in mind that deal making has been critical for growth in the cannabis industry.
Background on Village Farms International Stock
The Village Farms International story is a bit convoluted. Founded more than three decades ago, the company is one of the largest vertically integrated greenhouse growers in North America. It operates more than nine million square feet of facilities in British Columbia, Texas, Ontario and Mexico.
It’s a business that generates consistent cash flows. But unfortunately, there is little growth — and it’s far from exciting.
So then, why not leverage the facilities for cannabis? This does seem like a no brainer. To pursue the strategy, the company has formed a joint venture with Emerald Health Therapeutics (OTCMKTS:EMHTF), which is one of the largest cannabis operators in Canada. It is licensed for the sale of cannabis for recreational purposes in the country and also owns Agro-Biotech Sciences (a producer of dried cannabis flower).
As for the joint venture — which is certainly the key attraction for VFFIF stock — it is called Pure Sunfarms. About 1.1 million square feet of a facility in British Columbia has been licensed. This means that as many as 75,000 kilograms of production in the first half of this year. It’s also important to note that the margins are likely to be lucrative because of the shortages in the Canadian market (although, this situation is likely to be temporary).
But this is just the first step. The big opportunity for VFFIF stock is the American market, which is likely to see continued relaxation of the marijuana laws (just look at the recent farm bill). Village Farms controls about 5.7 million square feet of state-of-the-art production in the U.S.
Bottom Line On VFFIF Stock
This week Altria’s (NYSE:MO) CEO, Howard Willard, noted that the market for cannabis is expected to hit $40 billion in the next ten years on a global basis, which assumes no new laws are passed. So it should be no surprise that MO recently invested $1.8 billion in CRON. Of course, there have been other notable mega investments in the sector, such as with CGC.
All this means that VFFIF stock looks to be in a great spot right now, as it would be difficult to replicate its extensive footprint. It also helps that the company has already had a smooth transition in the Canadian market — which can serve as a model for additional projects.
Granted, VFFIF is still a relatively small company and there will likely be volatility. But for investors looking for a play on cannabis, this stock could be worth a try.
Tom Taulli is the author of High-Profit IPO Strategies, All About Commodities and All About Short Selling. Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.