3 U.S. Cannabis Stocks Gearing up for Growth; Cantor Says ‘Buy’
At the end of 2018, Canada fully legalized cannabis, nationwide, for both medical and recreational use. With the incoming Biden Administration, the US is expected to follow suit with Federal-level legalization, or at least formal decriminalization, sometime in the next four years. An exact timetable is impossible to predict; much will depend on the partisan makeup of Congress after the Georgia Senate runoff vote in early January.For now, cannabis legalization in the US is something of a checkerboard. Most states have at least partial legalization, with only Idaho and Nebraska holding out. Eleven states have made cannabis fully legal for all adults; the remaining 37 states have some form of partial medical use, and even Nebraska has decriminalized the substance. Under Federal law, cannabis remains an illegal controlled substance.Cantor analyst Pablo Zuanic recently met with several cannabis industry execs and came back with a few takeaways.“[The] speakers believe that under a Biden WH and Republican-controlled Senate, banking reform would pass in early 2021 and would be included in a COVID relief package […] In general, both speakers believe measured progression in legislation is the best path at the federal level, and expect a version of the STATES act (making cannabis federally permissible) to pass the Senate post the next midterms (this could take place sooner in the event of a 50-50 Senate split and a Biden WH). Other changes (descheduling, federal legalization) may take longer,“ Zuanic noted.Prepping for the possible changes, Zuanic has also been reviewing several cannabis stocks operating in the American market. Using the TipRanks database, we’ve pulled up the stats on three such stocks, which show the classic ‘growth stock’ profile: plenty of upside potential, recent strong share appreciation, and a Strong Buy rating from the analyst consensus. Curaleaf (CURLF)We’ll start with Curaleaf which, with a $7.7 billion market cap, is one of the largest cannabis companies around. By revenue, Curaleaf is the world’s largest cannabis producer, a position it cemented with the acquisition, earlier this year, of private competitor Grassroots. Curaleaf has operations in 23 states, including 30 processing facilities, 88 dispensaries, and 134 dispensary licenses. Curaleaf grows its product in 22 cultivation sites, with a combined 1.6 million square feet of cultivation capacity.Curaleaf’s performance this year, both in financial results and share appreciation, show the potential of the cannabis market in the US. The company reported $193.2 million in Q3 revenue, for a 59% sequential gain and even more impressive 164% year-over-year growth. The gains were powered by retail revenue, which grew 3x year-over-year to 135.3 million and wholesale revenue, which saw a massive 7x yoy gain to $45 million. While Curaleaf reported a net loss for Q3, that loss was only 1 cent per share, where analysts had expected twice that amount.Curaleaf shares are up 85% year-to-date. While trading in the company has been volatile, it has regained all of its COVID related losses from last winter.Covering this stock for Cantor, Zuanic writes, “We believe the company’s scale advantage, ability to raise funds ($1Bn shelf), and continued store and cultivation expansion, all warrant a valuation premium to peers… [Curaleaf] did not provide guidance for 2021, but the assumption is that it would post growth over the $1Bn annualized figure with which it will likely exit 2020.”Backing this bullish stance, Zuanic gives the stock an Overweight (i.e. Buy) rating, and his $20 price target suggests it has room for 71% growth in 2021. (To watch Zuanic’s track record, click here)Overall, CURLF shares get a Strong Buy rating from the analyst consensus, based on an 8 to 1 mix of Buy versus Hold reviews. The shares are trading at $11.69, and their $14.87 average price target implies a one-year upside potential of 27%. (See Curaleaf stock analysis on TipRanks)Green Thumb (GTBIF)Green Thumb is a Canadian company that has been expanding its foothold in the US market. While Canada’s nationwide legalization regime gives it an advantage over the fragmented, the US is a far larger market, with nearly 10x Canada’s population. Green Thumb’s products include edibles, pre-rolled joints, and vapes, along with a range of CBD-infused wellness items aimed at the home healthcare market. In the past two months, the company’s market cap has expanded from $3.3 billion to $4.6 billion.That market cap growth has been fueled by a massive share appreciation. GTBIF bottomed out in March, at the height of the coronavirus crisis, and is up 426% since then. Year-to-date, the stock is up 120%.That share growth, in turn, has been powered by strong revenues through 2020. In fact, Green Thumb’s Q1 top line showed a 35% sequential gain, at a time when many companies were registering quarter-over-quarter losses. GTBIF has continued to growth revenues since then, with Q3’s top line coming in at $157.1 million, up 131% year-over-year and 31% from Q2. These strong revenues yielded a Q3 EPS of 4 cents per share, derived from total net income of $9.6 million.In his note on Green Thumb, Zuanic reiterates his Overweight (i.e. Buy) rating, and sets a price target of $35 to indicate a 62% upside in the coming year.Backing his outlook, Zuanic writes, “We estimate that there is at least 20% upside to 2021 consensus sales estimates […] Given the profitability trackrecord, growth potential, and franchise strength, we think valuation multiples well above CPG stocks would be deserved (CPG multiples are ~20x EBITDA on average). Also, with federal permissibility still 2-4 years out, the larger MSOs have a window before CPG or the larger Canadian companies (the well-funded ones) can get involved in the US market in a major way. All this should be factored into the stock’s valuation.“Overall, Green Thumb has a unanimous analyst consensus rating, showing that Wall Street agrees with Zuanic’s views. The stock has no fewer than 8 Buy reviews in recent weeks. The average price target is $30.81, which suggests a 43% upside potential. (See Green Thumb’s stock analysis on TipRanks)Cresco Labs (CRLBF)Last but not least is Cresco Labs, a Chicago-based cannabis company with operations in the medical marijuana sector. The company markets its products in retail stores under the Sunnyside* brand, with licenses in 6 states: Arizona, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Cresco full product line-up includes eight other brand names, offering everything from buds, joints, and edibles to vapes and gummies. Counting all production facilities, retail licenses, and operational dispensaries, Cresco has a presence in 9 states.Cresco has shown strong growth in 2020. The stock is up 48% year-to-date, and there are still another three weeks of trading before year’s end. The gains have fully erased losses taken early in the COVID pandemic.Cresco has posted Q3 revenues of $153.3 million, a company quarterly record. The top line result was $59 million higher than the previous quarter, for a 63% sequential gain. The revenues rested on a foundation of strong retail sales, which totaled $90.5 million in the quarter. Cresco’s quarterly earnings are up from $66.4 million in Q1, a 130% gain year-to-date.Pablo Zuanic notes the company’s retail success in his note on the stock. He says, “Cresco beat our above consensus sales estimate by 23% on market share gains in wholesale in states like IL, PA, and CA, and continued IL retail outperformance… The branded wholesale model (near 60% of sales vs. 25% at peers) and depth (leadership in key states, with wholesale share above 20% in IL/PA) over time could lead to a premium over peers, in our view… As we project into 4Q, we model at least the same share levels per state in 3Q plus underlying market growth. In CA the company is gaining share per store (existing customers) as well as adding new retail customers.”These comments back up Zuanic’s Overweight (i.e. Buy) rating. His price target, of $18, indicates confidence in 77% growth potential for next year. With 5 Buy reviews overbalancing a single Hold, Cresco is our third Strong Buy cannabis stock. At a current trading price of $10.12, the $14.61 average price target gives a one-year upside of 44%. (See Cresco’s stock analysis on TipRanks)To find good ideas for cannabis stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.