California's cannabis industry: It's complicated

San Francisco (CNN Business)The week ended on a high note for Canopy Growth (CGC).

The world’s largest cannabis company by market cap saw its shares finish up more than 13% Friday after its third-quarter financial results surpassed expectations. Canopy’s net revenue of $123.8 million and net loss of $124.2 million, or 35 cents per share, fared far better than consensus estimates of $108.7 million revenue and a 50-cents-per-share loss, according to Refinitiv.
“It’s kind of a big exhale on still the most important company in the sector,” said investor Tim Seymour, founder of Seymour Asset Management and manager of the Amplify Seymour Cannabis ETF.

    Despite encouraging results from Canopy, the cannabis industry remains in the throes of a correction. Companies once richly rewarded for spreading their operations far and wide have retrenched and restructured in attempts to more closely align their businesses with the performance of legal cannabis markets.
    The Constellation Brands (STZ)-backed Canopy was one of the first large cannabis firms to enact a change in its corporate ranks — booting founder and co-CEO Bruce Linton last July in favor of former Constellation CFO David Klein. The broader cannabis industry has seen several CEO departures in recent weeks, at companies such as California-based MedMen Enterprises and Canada-based Aurora Cannabis.

    At Canopy, “we started to hear the voice of a CEO who clearly comes form a CFO’s chair at a large, sophisticated consumer products company,” Seymour said of Klein’s conference call with analysts on Friday.
    Canopy’s positive news helped to buoy the stocks of fellow cannabis firms. Shares of the other leading Canadian cannabis companies, including Aurora (AACTF), Tilray (TLRY) and Hexo (HEXO), also rose on Friday.
    While the company is often looked at as an industry bellwether, Canopy’s latest results shouldn’t be looked at as foreshadowing a market turnaround, Seymour said.
    “I don’t think this is a green light to buy the entire asset class,” Seymour said. “I do think there are going to be plenty of companies going out of business.”
    CEO of cannabis retailer MedMen steps down
    Cannabis companies’ recent earnings reports have been mixed, and larger operators are still encountering challenges, he said, noting Aurora’s deep losses posted Thursday. The company took some hefty write-downs from overvalued assets overseas and has outlined significant cost-cutting efforts.
    Canopy growth has a $2.3 billion cash war chest. However, the company needs to reel in its expenses and operate more efficiently first, Seymour said. “They haven’t necessarily stopped the bleeding.”

      On Friday’s call, Canopy’s Klein said the company plans to take “initial steps to right-size” the business in the next 90 days.
      “We will pull back on the M&A activity that the business has been doing, and we need to do a better job with our P&L,” he said. “So literally, we need to work across every line item.”
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