Shares of cannabis companies traded mostly lower Wednesday, pulling back from a big run up the previous session that snapped a long losing streak.
Among individual weed stocks, Cronos Group Inc.’s helped pace the gainers, surging 9.6% in midday trading after Bank of America swung to being bullish from bearish, as the potential for a near-term launch of the company’s U.S. business, with help from Altria Group Inc. , made a bearish stance “untenable.”
Don’t miss: CEO of pot producer Cronos talks about Altria deal, weed drinks and the rise of CBD.
Analyst Christopher Carey raised his rating two notches to buy from underperform, and his U.S. dollar price target to $20 from $13.
“While clearly a high multiple even vs. peers, following recent [management] comments we have improved confidence [Cronos] is near announcing its US CBD launch, a potentially significant catalyst,” Carey wrote in a note to clients.
Carey said he doesn’t expect Cronos entering the U.S. by acquiring a cannabis retailer, but rather expects the company to leverage Altria’s distribution-Altria’s products are in about 230,000 stores-to launch its own products. He said he believes Cronos will start with a focus on creams, tinctures and vapes/sprays, given that the Food and Drug Administration has stated that CBD (cannabidiol) in food additives is still prohibited.
Also read: An entire industry is being built around CBD, but we really don’t know that much about it.
Cowen analyst Vivien Azer wrote in a note to clients Wednesday that Cronos Chief Executive Mike Gorenstein said at a presentation that the company plans to lead with vaporizers for the upcoming introduction of new product forms in Canada. According to people familiar with the matter, Cronos has begun making substantial orders of Ccell vaporizer products.
The company reiterated its plans to use the old Altria facility in Israel to develop a vaporizers based on tech that the tobacco maker developed for its main business. It plans to launch at several prices, much like Juul, the nicotine vape company.
Azer has a C$21 target price on the name with the equivalent of a hold rating.
Like Cary, Azer says that it’s unlikely Cronos will enter the U.S. market through the acquisition of a multistate operator – that’s because Gorenstein co-founded Gotham Green Partners, an investment fund that focuses on cannabis.
Gotham Green has made investments in public entities such as MedMen Enterprises Inc., iAnthus Capital Holdings Inc., and GrowGeneration Corp. among other names. Gotham has also taken a stake in several cannabis startups, such as Flow Kana – incorporated as Event Horizon Technologies Inc. likely because cannabis remains illegal under federal law – which MarketWatch obtained confidential materials from the company’s last fundraising round, which Gotham participated in.
In part because of the informal relationships between Cronos and Gotham’s various investments, Azer says that it will use data they gather for insight into the U.S. consumer and test products in Canada. Azer also says Cronos plans to enter the CBD market likely with topicals and vaporizer products. The company said CBD products will likely be better suited for various edibles and beverages and is awaiting FDA action.
Cronos’ stock’s rally follows a 5.9% surge on Tuesday. It has now run up 52% year to date, and has more than doubled (up 126%) over the past 12 months.
On the downside, Tilray Inc. shares dropped 2.2% after Oppenheimer initiated research coverage with a less-than-enthusiastic perform rating. Analyst said he believed that shorter-term headwinds, which include full valuation and supply shortages in Canada, will offset longer-term positives, which are highlighted by partnerships with leading consumer and drug players and its positioning to capitalize on both the recreational and medical markets.
The worries about valuation come despite the stock have already plunged 54% over the past three months, and 49% year to date.
The ETFMG Alternative Harvest exchange-traded fund fell 0.4%, with 24 of 36 components trading lower. The pullback comes after a 5.0% surge on Tuesday snapped a 5-session losing streak, the longest in seven months, in which the ETF shed 10%.
Also read: Cannabis stocks surge toward first gain in 6 days.
The Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences ETF lost 0.3%, with about half of its 57 stocks losing ground, after running up 4.8% the day before.
Despite the sector’s breather, macro news for the cannabis industry was relatively upbeat. On Wednesday, the Delaware General Assembly is scheduled to have a hearing on bill that looks to make it legal for adults over the age of 21 to legally possess and consume under one ounce of marijuana, for personal use. The bill would not make it legal for people to grow their own marijuana.
That follows news last week that Illinois passed a bill to legalize adult use cannabis, and that Alabama passed a bill to open the way for legalizing medical marijuana.
Elsewhere, shares of Zynerba Pharmaceuticals Inc. slumped 6.7%, GW Pharmaceuticals PLC dropped 2.0%, CannTrust Holdings Inc. gave up 1.1% and Heritage Cannabis Holdings Corp. rallied 5.5%.
Here are some cannabis-related news released from individual cannabis companies:
* Harvest Health & Recreation Inc. said it opened three new medical marijuana dispensaries in Florida, bringing its total in the state to five dispensaries. The company holds licenses for up to 35 medical dispensaries in Florida, one cultivation facility and one manufacturing facility. The addresses of the new dispensaries are: Harvest of Jacksonville, at 10095 Beach Blvd., Suite 450; Harvest of North Port, at 7050 Sumter Crossing Dr.; and Harvest of Longwood at 182 W State Road 434, #1016.
* Blueberries Medical Corp. said it entered into an agreement to supply medical cannabis products to Canurius UG for the sale and distribution of cannabis products in Germany, with the potential for expansion into Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
* San Diego-based Medical Marijuana Inc. said its HempMeds subsidiary has added new products to its line of cannabidiol (CBD)-infused bath and beauty products, including a body balm, and active-relief roll on and an essential body oil.
* HempAmericana Inc. said it agreed to terms with an “emerging hemp distributor” in Florida for an initial purchase of 27 kilograms of CBD oil at a rate of $6,500 per kilogram, which translates to about $175,500.