Canopy Growth Corp. is Canada’s first marijuana “unicorn” after reaching a billion-dollar valuation Friday as part of an industry-wide rally buoyed by this week’s legalization push in eight U.S. states.
Canopy, a medical and recreational focused marijuana company, has seen its stock rise 386 per cent in the past year. Its market capitalization hit $1.15 billion Friday morning, giving it the elusive “unicorn” status reserved for startups that reach the billion dollar mark.
Publicly-traded Canadian marijuana companies, including large players like Aphria Inc. and Mettrum Health Corp., are now valued at a combined total of more than $3 billion, after massive growth in their share values in the past few months.
Canopy Growth’s stock reached new highs this week after eight U.S. states voted to legalize either recreational or medical marijuana during Tuesday’s election. It was up another five per cent Friday, hovering near $10 a share.
Canopy’s CEO Bruce Linton said the milestone valuation gives the company the capital to scale up further to prepare for a Canadian recreational market, which is expected to open some time in 2018.
Tweed, the company’s subsidiary best positioned to operate in the recreational market, plans to double its production at the facility south of Ottawa by the end of the year.
“The actual number isn’t as important as the fact that it validates a sector that is coming out of prohibition,” he said.
The company, based in an old Hershey’s factory in Smith’s Falls, Ont., became the first marijuana company to list on the Toronto Stock Exchange in April 2014.
Linton said the company’s gamble on starting big — with the purchase of the 500,000 sq ft. chocolate factory and a greenhouse with a roof the size of the Rogers Centre — has paid off.
“Now when I go around and look at the other facilities, I realize how completely nuts people must have thought we were,” he said.
“That wasn’t exactly starting out with a small footprint but it’s turned out to be better than to try and incrementally evolve.”
Canopy is the world’s first publicly-traded recreational and medical marijuana company to reach the $1 billion valuation, said Khurram Malik, head of research at Jacob Capital Management Inc. He added that Britain’s GW Pharmaceuticals has a $2.77 billion valuation reached the milestone of world’s first cannabis unicorn, but is specifically focused on synthetic pharmaceuticals.
“Canopy is the first ‘cannabis cannabis’ company, if you want to classify GW as more sort of the classic pharmaceutical company,” he said.
After a period of stagnation, Canada’s marijuana stocks have been on a tear over the past year, receiving a boost after the Liberal government was elected last October and another after that government announced it plans to legalize recreational marijuana.
Canada’s dozen publicly-traded marijuana companies’ market valuations have “doubled, tripled and quadrupled in some cases” since August alone, Malik said.
“It started with Canopy and then a few others after Canopy started raising money for recreational and suddenly told the market ‘we’re turning the page towards recreational and we need to start working on it’.”
The federal Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation is expected to release recommendations later this month on how to implement a market that has been estimated to be worth between $5 billion and $10 billion.
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