DENVER, June 24, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — COVID-19 devastated the economy but created a surge in cannabis sales, bolstering long-term trends. As the pandemic wreaked havoc on the U.S. and global economies, cannabis sales rocketed higher across multiple markets in North America. California cannabis sales soared nearly 160% compared to the same day in March 2019, while sales in Washington climbed 100% and Colorado saw a 46% increase on the same day. This surge gives no indications as a one off and is strong reinforcement of long-term trends in the industry. After a lot of early hype, the cannabis sector is on firm ground and is posting impressive numbers. A strong performer in the sector, Cannabis Strategic Ventures (OTCQB: NUGS) (NUGS Profile), is now on pace for over $2.7 million in quarterly sales and approximately $11 million in annualized sales, based on its strong performance in April and May. Simultaneously, the company increased its harvest size by as much as 2.5x and is now selling product at an 11% premium to industry standard. Powerful new deals confirm sector viability and vitality. Village Farms International Inc. (NASDAQ: VFF), one of North America’s largest vertically integrated greenhouse growers, recently launched a majority-owned joint venture for a large-scale, low-cost, high-quality cannabis production. HEXO Corp. (NYSE: HEXO), an established consumer packaged goods cannabis company, just closed a public offering for total gross proceeds of C$57,546,000. Amyris Inc. (NASDAQ: AMRS), a global science and technology leader of pure, sustainable ingredients for consumer products, just announced a major breakthrough in CBD delivery, improving efficacy of CBD by 10-40X as the carrier oil chassis for the skin care market. Tilray Inc. (NASDAQ: TLRY) a global leader in cannabis research, cultivation, processing, and distribution announced a C$90.4 million registered offering. The surge in cannabis sales during lockdown only adds to a sector that is thriving.
Pandemic’s Unexpected Windfalls
COVID-19 has had a crippling effect on many industries. Shops and restaurants forced to close, manufacturers unable to operate their plants, companies across the manufacturing and service sectors seeing demand plummet. The layoffs and losses are very real, and no one knows yet what the long-term economic impact will be.
But some businesses actually benefited from the economic disruption the pandemic has wrought. There are obvious ones like pharmaceutical companies and those producing protective equipment for medical staff. There are the tech businesses that facilitate working from home, providing software for virtual workspaces and online meetings. And there has been a huge increased demand for home entertainment, which has spilled over into a less obvious sector – cannabis producers such as Cannabis Strategic Ventures (OTCQB: NUGS) (NUGS Profile).
COVID Lends Cannabis a Lift
Cannabis was already a boom industry in North America. This has been driven by a range of recent changes, such as recreational legalization in Canada, federal legalization of hemp in the US, and the repeal of prohibition across a growing number of states. This has allowed the growth of companies such as Cannabis Strategic Ventures, which cater to a growing market as customers move from criminal supply channels to legal ones.
Demand exploded during the early stages of COVID-19’s spread through North America. According to the Bank of America Securities, there were record sales of cannabis as consumers stockpiled, preparing for a lockdown. While some people bought mountains of toilet paper or tinned food, both medical and recreational cannabis users were making sure they had enough to see them through a crisis.
The result was a spike in sales in April and May, to the benefit of companies with recognizable quality brands such as Cannabis Strategic Ventures. Sales could have been stymied as states locked down and restricted business to control the spread of COVID-19. But most states classified cannabis as an essential product, allowing sales to continue even as other parts of the economy were shutting down.
Together, these factors led to record sales for some cannabis companies, with Cannabis Strategic Ventures celebrating increased sales of cannabis product from its core cultivation facility and adding staff to address the rising demand.
Strong Contender Seizes Market Opportunity
These sales marked an extraordinary month for NUGS. Despite restrictions on business due to COVID-19, the company had record-breaking sales in the final week of April, putting monthly sales 800% higher than the monthly average for Q1.
Any fears that this might be a blip caused by panic buying at the start of the pandemic vanished the following month, when the company announced sales from its most recent harvest. With cannabis sales in the US average roughly $1,525 per pound, the company sold its product at around $1,700 per pound, 11% above benchmark levels. This was a particularly impressive price given that it had been selling at a discount relative to the benchmark only six months before.
Of course, not all cannabis companies will benefit from the crisis. Their ability to profit depends in large part on the strength of their existing business. NUGS had been building up its business prior to the crisis, with the addition of a six-acre cultivation site in 2019, capable of four or five harvests per year.
Seizing the market opportunity brought by COVID-19, the company has announced further improvements in the first half of 2020. Work on both the quantity and the quality of output has more than doubled the output of cultivation facilities while supporting rising prices for its products.
Cannabis Industry Evolves
The long-term expansion of legal markets has led to dramatic growth for cannabis companies over the past decade, and the COVID-19-related influx of revenues provides well-run businesses the resources they need for further expansion. Late April and early May saw Cannabis Strategic Ventures sell out its entire stock every week for a month.
“We have never seen anything like this,” said Cannabis Strategic Ventures CEO Simon Yu. “We booked $100,000 in one day to clear out all of our remaining inventory. We anticipated this dynamic but still underestimated the force of the trend. Too much demand is always the problem you want to have.”
NUGS sold $929,000 of cannabis products in May and expects to see even greater sales in June. Expanded inventory and product range have supported this growth even in a time of crisis, while reinvestment from that growth will let the company further expand its capacity.
Part of the sector’s success comes from producing a varied range of brands and products. Rather than just selling weed, the more successful companies have been developing a variety of cannabis derivatives for different markets. While the recent boom in sales has come from demand for cannabis itself, related brands have diverse interests in supporting long-term growth of the market, normalizing cannabis and its derivatives as consumer products, and protecting companies against a disruption in any individual part of the market.
Cannabis Players Execute on Varied Strategies
The boom in sales brought about by the COVID-19 crisis has created an opportunity for a range of growing companies.
Village Farms International Inc. (NASDAQ: VFF) is one of the largest and longest-operating vertically integrated greenhouse growers in North America. The company announced that its majority-owned joint venture for large-scale, low-cost, high-quality cannabis production, Pure Sunfarms, has received from Health Canada its cannabis cultivation sales license based on an initial production area within its second 1.1 million square foot greenhouse facility in Delta, British Columbia.
HEXO Corp. (NYSE: HEXO) is an award-winning consumer packaged goods cannabis company that creates and distributes innovative products to serve the global cannabis market. The company serves the Canadian adult-use markets under its HEXO Cannabis and Up Cannabis brands, and the medical market under HEXO medical cannabis. The company recently closed a public offering for total gross proceeds to the company of C$57,546,000,
Amyris Inc. (NASDAQ: AMRS) is a global science and technology leader of pure, sustainable ingredients for the Health & Wellness, Clean Beauty and Flavors & Fragrances markets. The company recently presented clinical data showcasing the superiority of its natural sugarcane squalane (marketed and sold as Neossance Squalane) as a carrier of CBD versus other oils. In order for CBD to be effective in topical applications, skin penetration is a key factor. Amyris sugarcane squalane improves the efficacy of CBD by 10-40X as the carrier oil chassis for the skin care market based on new data.
Tilray Inc. (NASDAQ: TLRY) is a global leader in cannabis research, cultivation, processing and distribution. An industry pioneer, Tilray was the first GMP-certified medical cannabis producer to supply cannabis flower and extract products to tens of thousands of patients, physicians, pharmacies, hospitals, governments, and researchers on five continents.
COVID-19 devastated the global economy but spurred a revenue spike in the cannabis industry, substantiating the opportunity in an already rapidly expanding sector.
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