Sundial Growers Doesn’t Know What It Wants to Be When It Grows Up

Every time I go to write about Sundial Growers (NASDAQ:SNDL) stock, it seems the Calgary-based cannabis company has something new on the go.

up close photo of a marijuana joint smoldering against a pitch black background
Source: Jan Havlicek/

The question is whether any of its moves will result in SNDL stock gaining ground over the final five months of 2021.

While it might have been able to get out of a financial hole by issuing millions of shares during the Reddit bonanza earlier this year, that doesn’t mean everything it touches turns to gold. 

As cannabis companies go, it’s obvious management is throwing lots of ideas against the wall hoping something will stick. If and when it finds the keys to the kingdom, I don’t see a problem with SNDL stock moving above $1.

Until then, long-time shareholders will have to sit by and watch as the company figures out what it wants to be when it gets older. 

Here are a couple of options.

SNDL Stock and Specialty Lending

InvestorPlace’s Ian Bezek discussed SunStream Bancorp in May. SunStream is the company’s move into cannabis lending with Calgary-based SAF Group

When Bezek discussed SunStream, Sundial had just doubled its commitment to the venture, contributing 188 million CAD ($153 million).

Well, on July 7, Sundial announced it was upping its investment to 538 million CAD ($432 million), a 186% increase.

It appears that Sundial could be planting its flag on cannabis investments, opting to spread its bets to a few opportunities rather than betting it all on a single business. Once bitten, twice shy, I guess. 

Sundial had 746 million CAD ($599 million) in cash and no debt as of May 11. The investment in SunStream Bancorp lowers its cash balance, moving forward to 208 million CAD ($167 million). 

As my colleague stated, its move into debt and equity cannabis investments through SunStream gives it a much better investment profile than its previous modus operandi as a failing cannabis cultivator. 

The Spiritleaf Move

In recent months, the other move Sundial has made is to tentatively acquire Inner Spirit Holdings (OTCMKTS:INSHF) in early May for $106.3 million.

Inner Spirit owns the Spiritleaf retail network, a collection of 86 company-owned and franchised cannabis stores in five Canadian provinces. 

Of the $106.3 million to buy Spiritleaf’s retail business, $82 million is in cash, with the rest in SNDL stock. That cuts the company’s cash position to $85 million. 

The move helps create a vertically integrated business model for its own brands Top Leaf, Sundial Cannabis, Palmetto, and Grasslands. The $85-million remaining will come in handy for propping up that side of its business.

Normally, I love businesses that have lots of moving parts. The kind of special situations where it’s hard to evaluate the actual intrinsic value of a business’s many parts. 

But in the case of Sundial, I continue to believe that there are better investments to make if you want to play the retail cannabis market.

Nova Cannabis (OTCMKTS:NVACF) is but one example. High Tide (OTCMKTS:HITID) is another

On the product front, I argued in early June that Indiva Ltd.’s (OTCMKTS:NDVAF) edibles business was a much better buy than SNDL.

This despite the fact Sundial owns 18.45% of Indiva and gets almost a million a year in interest payments from the London, Ontario company. 

The Bottom Line

On the surface, Sundial has some interesting side bets from its cultivation business. However, the Spiritleaf buy suggests the company doesn’t want to give up on its own cultivation business and the 448,000 square foot indoor facility it operates in Alberta.   

As it continues to figure out what business it wants to be in, SNDL investors will have to be extremely patient because none of the $432 million it’s committed to SunStream Bancorp has been put into play yet. 

We might not know until well into 2022 what the investment side of its business looks like. In the meantime, the actual production side of its business continues to lose money. 

However, if you can afford to lose your entire business, I think there’s enough meat on the bone to justify a speculative buy under a  buck. Everyone else should stay away. 

On the date of publication, Will Ashworth did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the Publishing Guidelines.

Will Ashworth has written about investments full-time since 2008. Publications where he’s appeared include InvestorPlace, The Motley Fool Canada, Investopedia, Kiplinger, and several others in both the U.S. and Canada. He particularly enjoys creating model portfolios that stand the test of time. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At the time of this writing Will Ashworth did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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