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What You Can Expect in Cronos Group's Q1 Earnings Update

Keith Speights, The Motley Fool

Cronos Group (NASDAQ: CRON) has become the Rodney Dangerfield of the Canadian cannabis industry. Like the late comedian, Cronos Group "don't get no respect." That's the case, at least, from several analysts. In fact, my colleague Sean Williams calls Cronos the most hated pot stock on the market right now.

But despite the disrespect for Cronos, the stock is still up more than 50% year to date and nearly 170% over the last 12 months. And Cronos has an opportunity to soar even higher when the company announces its first-quarter results on Thursday morning. Here are three things you can expect in Cronos Group's Q1 earnings update.

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Image source: Getty Images.

1. Slowing revenue growth

Cronos Group's revenue soared 248% year over year to 5.6 million Canadian dollars in the fourth quarter. But it's quite possible that the company's rate of growth could slow when it reports its Q1 results this week.

The consensus revenue estimate among analysts surveyed by Zacks is for Cronos to announce Q1 revenue of CA$4.9 million. That would still more than double the sales reported by the company in the prior-year period. However, it would also reflect a decline from the fourth quarter.

Why would Cronos Group's revenue potentially slip sequentially? Just look at the reasons why Scotiabank slashed its revenue estimate for Canopy Growth. Scotiabank analysts Oliver Rowe and Ben Isaacson think that the Canadian cannabis industry is experiencing "teething pains" after reviewing data that showed lower overall adult-use recreational pot sales in January 2019 compared to December 2018.

There are several reasons behind slowing sales for the cannabis industry. Capacity remains constrained, limiting the availability of products for the adult-use recreational market. Also, there haven't been as many retail cannabis stores open as some expected. In addition, demand for medical cannabis isn't growing very much with the adult-use recreational market now open in Canada.

2. Another big loss

Even if Cronos surprises everyone with stronger-than-expected Q1 revenue, you can bank on the company delivering yet another big loss on the bottom line. In the fourth quarter, the company's net loss totaled CA$11.8 million.

A lot of Cronos Group's increased spending last quarter stemmed from higher professional and consulting fees associated with its deal with tobacco giant Altria. In addition, the company spent more on beefing up governance and internal controls, hiring new staff, and expanding research and development. Although some of those costs were likely lower in the first quarter, many of them will carry over into Q1 and subsequent quarters.

Analysts surveyed by Zacks project that Cronos will post a net loss of CA$0.03 per share. If the company hits this target, it would actually be a good sign that Cronos is moving in the right direction toward sustained profitability.

3. A boatload of cash

There's one area in Cronos Group's first-quarter update that you can be absolutely confident will reflect a huge improvement from past quarters -- its cash position. Cronos reported CA$32.6 million in cash at the end of 2018. That figure is going to be a lot higher in the company's report on Thursday.

Cronos closed its transaction with Altria in March. This deal brought in a whopping CA$2.4 billion in additional cash.

Don't expect Cronos to sit on this boatload of cash for too long. CEO Mike Gorenstein said that the company has plenty of plans for the money, including expanding product development and commercialization capabilities.

Remember the big picture

Regardless of how Cronos Group's numbers look in the company's first-quarter update, they'll only be a snapshot taken in the very early stages of the global cannabis market. The long-term prospects for the cannabis industry -- and Cronos -- continue to look very good.

Don't underestimate the value of Cronos Group's relationship with Altria. The tobacco giant has made a significant bet on Cronos and will likely do everything in its power to make sure that bet pays off. Altria's cash, consumer market expertise, and connections should pave the way for Cronos to become a bigger player in the cannabis industry in the future. 

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Keith Speights has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.