As recently as April, 17 pure-play pot stocks -- i.e., not the Scotts Miracle-Gros and Altrias of the world that rely on cannabis as a small percentage of their sales -- were lugging around a market cap of at least $1 billion. This was the result of robust growth projections for the marijuana industry that forecast anywhere from $50 billion to $200 billion in annual worldwide sales in a decade's time.
But a lot has changed in just a few months. Supply challenges in Canada have remained persistent, and will take numerous quarters to solve. Meanwhile, high tax rates on legal cannabis in the U.S. have fueled the black market and dragged down sales in leading markets, such as California. The result has been weaker stock performances and shrinking valuations.
As of the closing bell this past Monday, just 13 pot stocks still possessed a billion-dollar valuation, with 7 of these 13 just $570 million, or less, away from dropping out of the billion-dollar club. In descending order by market, here are the largest marijuana stocks in the world.
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1. Canopy Growth: $12.07 billion
The biggest cannabis stock by a mile, and the only true large-cap pot stock, continues to be Canopy Growth (NYSE: CGC). Canopy will likely slot in as the second-largest grower in Canada, with north of 500,000 kilos a year when at peak capacity. It's also done a bang-up job of pushing into the U.S. hemp industry, and nabbed Acreage Holdings (NASDAQOTH: ACRGF) via a $3.4 billion contingent-rights cash-and-stock deal, when announced. As one last add-on, Canopy Growth has around $3.4 billion in cash and cash equivalents at its disposal, which provides a nice foundation for its large-cap valuation.
2. Aurora Cannabis: $6.82 billion
Although it's flirted with large-cap territory for short periods of time, Aurora Cannabis (NYSE: ACB) has firmly established itself as the second-largest pot stock by market cap. Aurora's primary means of growth has been through acquisitions, of which it's made 15 since August 2016. This is a company that's projected to lead all growers in peak annual production, and has established a more diverse geographic presence than any other weed stock.
3. GW Pharmaceuticals: $4.96 billion
The only pure-play cannabinoid-based drug stock on this list, GW Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: GWPH) ranks third in market cap among cannabis stocks. GW Pharmaceuticals had the first-ever cannabis-derived drug, Epidiolex, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June 2018. After a slow launch, net sales of the drug really picked up in the first quarter, to $33.5 million. As the only company with an approved treatment for Dravet syndrome (Epidiolex also is approved to treat Lennox-Gastaut syndrome), GW Pharmaceuticals looks to have a clear runway to ramp up sales of its cannabidiol (CBD)-based drug.
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4. Cronos Group: $4.89 billion
Having been unseated by GW Pharma, cannabinoid company and grower Cronos Group (NASDAQ: CRON) is fourth with a market cap of nearly $4.9 billion. Much of Cronos Group's valuation comes from the 45% nondiluted stake Altria took in the company, which closed in March. As a result, Cronos sports a healthy $1.8 billion in cash on its balance sheet. This is a company with a clear focus on the derivatives market via vapes and commercial cannabinoids, which should begin taking off in mid-December.
5. Tilray: $4.1 billion
Former highflier Tilray (NASDAQ: TLRY), which briefly doubled-up Canopy Growth in market cap last September, has dipped all the way to the No. 5 spot but still sports a $4.1 billion market cap. Supporting this valuation is Tilray's access to medical patients in more than a dozen countries, as well as its push into the U.S. via its acquisition of hemp foods company Manitoba Harvest in March 2019. Manitoba Harvest has a distribution network with access to more than 16,000 retailers, which is perfect given Tilray's desire to reach new markets with CBD products.
6. Curaleaf Holdings: $3.67 billion
Vertically integrated dispensary operator Curaleaf Holdings (NASDAQOTH: CURLF) rounds out the last of the true midcap marijuana stocks at nearly $3.7 billion. Already the leader in operational retail stores, Curaleaf announced the acquisition of multistate operator Grassroots on July 17 for $875 million in cash and stock. This builds on Curaleaf's purchase of Cura Partners, which owns the Select brand, earlier this year. When all of its deals are closed, Curaleaf will have access to 19 states and will be able to open up to 131 retail locations.
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7. Green Thumb Industries: $1.57 billion
There's a more than $2 billion gap between Curaleaf and the next-closest dispensary operator in terms of market cap, Green Thumb Industries (NASDAQOTH: GTBIF). Green Thumb operates in a dozen states and has 89 licenses in its portfolio for retail locations. That makes it a clear top five player in the U.S. with its Rise-branded stores. Of note, Green Thumb has taken particular interest in the Nevada market, which has some of the highest projected per-capita spending on legal cannabis in the United States.
8. Aphria: $1.56 billion
Once upon a time a much larger company in terms of market cap, Aphria (NYSE: APHA) has been hammered by investor trust issues. Even though Aphria looks to be the third-largest grower in Canada, with 255,000 kilos of peak annual output, and has devoted a good portion of its portfolio to derivatives (when they go on sale in mid-December), investors are struggling to put conflicts of interest uncovered in the early part of 2019 in the rearview mirror. Nevertheless, it remains the eighth-largest pot stock, albeit fractionally ahead of the next company on this list.
9. Harvest Health & Recreation: $1.56 billion
Landing at No. 9 is yet another vertically integrated multistate cannabis operator, Harvest Health & Recreation (NASDAQOTH: HRVSF). Harvest Health has been aggressively acquiring businesses and licenses over the past year, with its biggest deal being the $850 million all-stock purchase of Verano Holdings. On a pro forma basis, Harvest Health has more than 210 aggregate licenses (this includes stores, farms, and processing sites), 142 of them for dispensaries. This means Harvest Health can actually open more retail locations than Curaleaf, although Curaleaf has far more operational locations at the moment than Harvest Health.
Image source: Getty Images.
10. Innovative Industrial Properties: $1.26 billion
The always-popular cannabis real estate investment trust Innovative Industrial Properties (NYSE: IIPR) has worked its way into the top 10, even with a very recent share-price swoon. Innovative Industrial has more than doubled the number of marijuana properties in its portfolio this year to 23, and maintains an average return on invested capital of 14.7%, implying a complete payback of its invested capital of less than five years. The icing on the cake is a 3.25% annual increase to the rental rates of its 23 properties, providing modest organic operating growth.
11. HEXO: $1.14 billion
Quebec-based HEXO (NYSE: HEXO) is hanging onto its billion-dollar valuation after a multimonth downtrend, although it is still one of the most de-risked pot stocks in the industry. Around 30% of its output through 2023 is likely headed to its home province of Quebec via a massive wholesale supply deal signed in 2018. HEXO has also been actively arranging for the third-party extraction of hemp and cannabis biomass, and has more than 600,000 square feet of processing capability of its own to take advantage of higher-margin derivative products.
12. Acreage Holdings: $1.11 billion
As noted, multistate operator Acreage Holdings has agreed to be acquired by Canopy Growth if the U.S. federal government legalizes marijuana. In the meantime, Acreage continues to expand its reach. It holds 88 retail store licenses, which is also in the top five among dispensary operators, and has a presence in 20 U.S. states, which is tops in the industry. Acreage is also forecast to hit nearly $500 million in sales for 2020, potentially making it one of the highest revenue-generating pot stocks.
13. Trulieve Cannabis: $1.07 billion
Rounding out the billion-dollar marijuana stock list at lucky No. 13 is Florida's own Trulieve Cannabis (NASDAQOTH: TCNNF). Although Trulieve has operations in three other states, it's primarily focused on Florida's medical marijuana legal market, where it currently has 29 open retail locations. As one of the very few cannabis stocks to be profitable on an operating basis, Trulieve has channeled its strong earnings growth and successful branding into a billion-dollar valuation.
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