By Max A. Cherney
Shares rise nearly 70% on volume more than 30 times greater than average after pot company reports stronger-than-expected revenue growth
Aurora Cannabis Inc.'s pot sales jumped as COVID-19 spread across the globe in the first three months of the year, and the company's beleaguered and recently bundled shares enjoyed the best and busiest trading session in history.
Aurora's U.S.-traded stock (ACB.T) gained 68.7% Friday, the biggest single-day percentage gain in its history, on astounding record volume of more than 102 million shares, according to FactSet. Aurora averages volume of fewer than 3 million shares over the past 30 days and 90 days, and its previous volume record was 12.5 million, set on Thursday ahead of the results, according to FactSet. Before this week, Aurora's U.S.-traded shares had only topped volume of 10 million twice in history.
On the Toronto Stock Exchange, where Aurora has been traded much longer, shares (ACB.T) still managed to hit record volume of nearly 18 million, after previously not topping 10 million in a single day. Aurora's Canadian shares gained 66.9%, their best single-day gain since 2014.
Even with those gains, Aurora stock has still lost more than half its value this year, after adjusting for a recent reverse stock split. Aurora completed a 12-for-1 share consolidation Monday, in response to a delisting threat from the New York Stock Exchange after its stock traded below $1. The move reduced its float from more than 1 billion shares to roughly 100 million shares.
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The company's share price has tumbled as it failed to hit promised profit targets. Aurora jettisoned several top executives who had been with the company since close to its inception, leading to Michael Singer taking over as interim CEO.
Aurora also plans to sell small batches of stock at market prices in order to raise money. The company has struggled to maintain a cash-rich () balance sheet that rivals such as Canopy Growth Corp. (WEED.T) (WEED.T) and Cronos Group Inc. (CRON.T) (CRON.T) boast.
Aurora on Thursday afternoon reported a net loss of C$137.4 million, which amounts to C$1.37 a share, widening from C$160.2 million, or C$1.89 a share, in the year-ago period. Aurora did not report a net loss figure in its news release, but did provide the information in filings with the Canadian securities regulator.
The Alberta-based weed company said third-quarter revenue, after subtracting excise taxes, rose to C$75.5 million from C$65.1 million in the year-ago quarter and C$56 million in the preceding quarter, with sales of recreational marijuana totalling C$41.5 million and medical pot C$31.9 million. Analysts polled by FactSet had predicted revenue of C$66.7 million and a net loss of 77 cents a share.
In the earnings call, Aurora executives said that the company observed some consumer stockpiling in March as the coronavirus pandemic spread across the world -- but the company also experienced a surge in sales of the brand of cheap pot called "Daily Special" it recently launched. The March gains, however tapered off in April and provincial buyers returned to pre-pandemic levels.
The company said that the COVID-19 pandemic did not have a significant impact in the third quarter, as cannabis production has been recognized as an essential service in Canada and Europe. Interim CEO Singer said in the conference call Thursday that it's likely that the coronavirus will have a greater effect on the company's results in the fiscal fourth quarter.
Singer said that Aurora it was "pleased" with the progress it had made to reduce its selling, general and administrative expenses to $C40 million to C$45 million by the end of the fourth quarter. The company has also said it would reduce its capital expenditures below C$100 million for the second half of fiscal 2020.
The cheap weed Aurora is selling has begun to impact the average price it achieves per gram for consumer product, falling to C$4.33 during the quarter, compared with C$4.76 a ear ago.
-Max A. Cherney; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 18, 2020 11:53 ET (15:53 GMT)
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