The COVID-19 pandemic has proven a boon to U.S. marijuana producer Curaleaf Holdings Inc., as sales jump and many states say that cannabis is an essential service, an analyst wrote in a note to clients Wednesday.
Curaleaf stock /zigman2/quotes/205334348/delayed CURLF +1.51% , /zigman2/quotes/203485866/delayed CA:CURA +1.22% which trades over the counter in the U.S., rose 2.7% in Wednesday trading. Shares have gained 44% in the past five days, as the Cannabis ETF /zigman2/quotes/213173823/composite THCX -0.80% rose 28%.
In its earnings call late Tuesday, the Wakefield, Mass., pot company reported that the majority of its 54 stores are operational, avoiding delivery and offering on-premising filling of cannabis orders. Curaleaf highlighted a roughly 20% boost in sales, which lines up with other data Stifel GMP analyst Robert Fagan was examining that suggests a 30% boost in growth as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
Fagan has a buy on the name with a C$22 target price, for its Canadian Securities Exchange-listed shares.
Ahead of the company’s earnings Tuesday, Curaleaf issued an operational update related to COVID-19, addressing measures that it has implemented to protect its employees, such as increased sanitation and hygiene, among other efforts. The company has not yet seen disruptions on the cultivation and processing side.
Curaleaf also rescinded its 2020 outlook as a result of the virus, telling investors Tuesday that its stores were closed in Massachusetts for the time being and will likely experience a falloff in sales in Nevada because of decreased tourism. In Massachusetts, the company operates two medical dispensaries, which will be allowed to operate, but is not allowed to operate its three recreational-use stores. According to Alliance Global Partners analyst Aaron Grey, Massachusetts will be the main state where Curaleaf’s revenues are hurt, but uncertainty remains even as the company offers other options for customers buying weed.
“All in, we continue to believe cannabis is well-positioned versus other industries to outperform on a relative basis during unknowns on the coronavirus impact and believe Curaleaf is well-positioned given the company’s strong balance sheet and a majority of its revenues coming from markets that have deemed cannabis essential,” Grey wrote in a note to clients Wednesday.
Grey rates Curaleaf a buy and lowered his target price to C$12 from C$14 Wednesday.
Canaccord Genuity analyst Matt Bottomley wrote in a Wednesday note that state shelter-in-place orders and other shutdown measures “could very possibly create moderate-to-high headwinds for the cannabis sector depending on the length/magnitude of these measures.” Bottomley notes that many U.S.-based weed companies, including Curaleaf, have posted strong sales in March amid the COVID-19 crisis and that his team would be closely monitoring all operators for impact in the form of supply chain disruptions and forced curfews, among other things.
Cowen analyst Vivien Azer wrote in a note to clients Wednesday that her team was cautious about the company’s vape sales amid COVID-19, as “medical professionals are cautioning against vaping.” Curaleaf’s acquisition of the vape company Select closed in February but its sales were hurt in 2019 were hurt because of a rise in vape-related illnesses. Azer says trends have “started to show some improvement.” Select has exposure in California, Nevada, Oregon and Arizona and Canaccord Genuity says its the number one brand by oil revenue in several west coast markets.
Azer rates Curaleaf the equivalent of a buy and has a $7 price target on U.S. shares.
Stifel GMP’s Fagan says that his team expects Select’s revenue to rebound in the second quarter of 2020, because it will be integrated into Curaleaf’s platform — which is already taking place in Maryland, Michigan and Colorado — and is launching new products such as gummies in the states where it’s active.
Bottomley also noted that Curaleaf has an attractive balance sheet compared with most of its U.S. rivals, noting that it closed $300 million of senior secured term debt. According to his team’s estimates and removing the cash that it has committed for acquisitions, Curaleaf has more than $260 million of “unallocated cash on hand. In our view this represents one of the strongest balances sheets in the sector as the company continues to build out its leading U.S. exposure.
Bottomley rates Curaleaf a “speculative” buy with a price target of C$15, lowered from C$16.