By Ciara Linnane, MarketWatch
Cannabis stocks were mostly lower on Tuesday, as investors digested a downgrade of Canada’s Cronos Group Inc. after its strong gains in the year so far.
Cronos shares /zigman2/quotes/206842762/composite CRON -3.92% were down 6%, after GMP Securities lowered its rating to hold from buy and reiterated a stock price target of C$24 ($18) that implies 21% downside from its current trading level.
“The company’s shares have surged ~110% year-to-date on no material news and have outperformed the HMMJ cannabis index /zigman2/quotes/208856346/delayed CA:HMMJ -3.41% by a factor of 2,” analyst Martin Landry wrote in the note. “This strong performance forces us to change our rating to HOLD solely based on valuation.”
GMP is a believer in the’ promising outlook at Cronos, praising its strong management team and record of efficient capital deployment. The recent news of tobacco giant Altria Inc.’s /zigman2/quotes/208895754/composite MO +1.49% planned C$2.4 billion investment in the company “will be a game changer,” Landry wrote in a note.
However, “Cronos is still in the early stage of its development with limited revenues in relation to its sizable market cap,” said Landry. “Hence, in our view, the company needs to backfill its valuation with capital deployment into the U.S. market, increase its penetration in the Canadian recreational market and continue its international expansion.”
The analyst is advising investors to take a breather on the stock and wait for a more attractive entry point.
Also Tuesday, a new report on American’s changing views of cannabis found public opinion has shifted dramatically in favor of legalization, a trend it partially credited to the media.
“As politically polarized as the country may seem, when it comes to marijuana, Americans have been changing their attitudes together, as a nation,” the report published by research database The Conversation found.
Support for legalization began to climb as the media began to cover cannabis as a medical issue, disassociating it from other Schedule I drugs such as heroin and cocaine with which it is still classified. As Americans became more supportive of the substance, they became less punitive about its use and began to view the criminal justice system as overly harsh.
Meanwhile, the decline in the number of Americans who say they have a religious affiliation also contributed to overall support, the study found. It did not find a drastic increase in the number of users of cannabis in the U.S.
Namaste Technologies Inc. /zigman2/quotes/204114873/delayed NXTFF -43.50% shares rose 1%. The stock fell about 16% on Monday after it fired its chief executive for cause and launched a review of its strategic options that may result in a sale of the company.
The company said a special committee probe found evidence of self-dealing and other breaches of fiduciary duty by Sean Dollinger and has launched legal action seeking damages and disgorgement.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has warned of a potentially elevated risk of scams and other suspicious behavior in the relatively nascent cannabis industry.
Tetra Bio-Pharma Inc. /zigman2/quotes/210370082/delayed TBPMF -0.45% shares slid 21%, after it said it was temporarily suspending a phase 3 clinical program because of impurities it discovered in its PPP001 investigational drug, which is made of raw cannabis materials and is being given to patients. The company said it informed regulators within 24-hours of discovering the impurities and has notified all patients involved.