By Ciara Linnane, MarketWatch
Canopy is closing two grow facilities and shelving plans for another as it grapples with oversupply in a market that still lacks stores
Canopy Growth Corp. shares fell 4% Thursday after the Canadian cannabis company announced it was cutting 500 jobs as it reduces capacity () by closing two greenhouses and shelving plans for another.
Canopy (WEED.T) , (WEED.T) the cannabis market leader thanks to a $4 billion investment from drinks giant Constellation Brands (STZ), is suffering from the same obstacle of oversupply that its rivals are facing. The legal weed sector has had a slower-than-expected start amid a shortage of retail outlets. That has prevented licensed producers from getting their product to consumers and has allowed the black market to continue to thrive.
"It has been clear that Canopy's vast production space has been far in excess of what's currently necessary," said Jefferies analysts Owen Bennett and Ryan Tomkins. The company's annual production capacity is up to 500,000 kilograms, compared with current industry sales of about 200,000 kilograms, they wrote in a note.
Canopy said it expects to record a pre-tax charge of C$700 million ($521 million) to C$800 million ($596 million) to cover the costs of the closures. It also said that outdoor cultivation is now offering a lower-cost way to grow cannabis than greenhouses and will allow it to meet demand for products that rely on cannabis extracts.
Read:Tilray slides 14% to pressure broader cannabis sector after earnings disappoint ( )
Jefferies said the actions are positive for profitability, which has remained elusive for most companies in the sector. It's also a positive signal from new Chief Executive David Klein that he "is serious about instilling the financial rigor that many have been hoping for."
Klein came to the job from Corona beer brewer Constellation Brands, where he was chief financial officer. Constellation has been taking greater control of Canopy in recent months, ousting co-CEO Bruce Linton last summer, ( ) and pushing for greater discipline at the company.
See now:Federal prosecutors investigate California marijuana companies in wide-ranging probe ()
Stifel analysts reiterated their buy rating on the stock and said the news shows Canopy is attempting to differentiate itself from competitors by considering the current and future market. "Ahead of legalization, Canopy invested intensely toward all potential category outcomes, and now the company is taking a thorough review of its assets with better visibility into the category," analysts led by Andrew Carter wrote in a note.
See:People want cheap weed, and Aurora Cannabis is paying the price ()
KushCo Holdings Inc. shares (KSHB) were down 0.7%, amid concerns that the coronavirus that broke out in Wuhan, China late last year is hurting the production of vaporizer hardware, most of which is produced in China. While the pace of infection is slowing in China, travel restrictions and other measures aimed at containment have kept factories running at reduced capacity.
In a normal year, weed companies buying vape hardware from China expect a winter disruption of roughly a month surrounding Lunar New Year, but coronavirus is expected to extend that pause another three to six weeks, according to KushCo Chief Executive Nick Kovacevich. Many companies stocked up ahead of the New Year's celebrations, Kovacevich told MarketWatch's Max A. Cherney. ()
"People will stay in business, but it's frustrating and a little disruptive," Kovacevich said over the phone. "The reason it's taking a long time is the workers couldn't get back to their factories to restart production."
Cannabis accessories maker Greenlane Holdings (GNLN) was down 3.7% and Turning Point Brands (TPB) was down 2.6%.
See: Canopy Growth extends gains, but analyst highlights issue that was overlooked in earnings ()
Elsewhere in the sector, stocks fell sharply along with the broader market as coronavirus fears prompted a fresh round of selling. The S&P 500 was down 2.9% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 3.1% in a continued selloff sparked by fears about the coronavirus.
Read now:Stocks give up much of Wednesday's gain as coronavirus stalks markets ()
Cronos (CRON.T) (CRON.T) was down 1.9%, Tilray (TLRY) was down 6.6% and Aurora Cannabis (ACB.T) (ACB.T) was down 3.6%. Aphria (APHA.T) (APHA.T) was down 6%, OrganiGram (OGI.T) was down 2.8% and GW Pharma (GWPH) was down 1.9%.
The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (MJ) was down 3%, while the Cannabis ETF (THCX) was down 2.7%.
Cannabis Watch: For all of MarketWatch's coverage of cannabis companies:Click here ()
-Ciara Linnane; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
March 06, 2020 06:59 ET (11:59 GMT)
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