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Lo and Behold: The Only Marijuana Value Stock

Sean Williams, The Motley Fool

Next to cryptocurrencies, few industries have been hotter for a longer period of time than marijuana stocks. Over the trailing-two-year period, many of the largest pot stocks by market cap have risen in value by between 1,000% and 2,000%. Not too shabby when you consider that the stock market tends to appreciate about 7% per year, inclusive of dividend reinvestment and when adjusted for inflation.

The buzz behind the cannabis industry is the expectation of rapid growth amid a steady shift in the public's perception toward pot. What was once a taboo topic is now something covered by lawmakers in state legislatures on Capitol Hill. Every major survey released over the trailing year has demonstrated overwhelming support for legalizing cannabis, with even stronger support noted for medical marijuana, in the United States.

Dried cannabis buds next to a piece of paper that says yes, lying on dozens of miniature Canadian flags.

Image source: Getty Images.

Expected recreational legalization in Canada sends pot stock valuations through the roof

Of course, investors are really excited about the potential for legalizing recreational marijuana in Canada by this coming summer. Medical marijuana has been legal in our neighbor to the north since 2001, but legislation currently being reviewed in parliament could make it the first developed country in the world, and second overall behind Uruguay, to have legalized adult-use cannabis. If approved, it could add $5 billion in annual sales to the legal weed industry, if not more.

The expectation of legalization by this summer has a lot of investors envisioning hefty profits for pot stocks. It's also pushed valuations for these companies into nosebleed territory. The vast majority are trading at huge forward price-to-earnings multiples, assuming they'll be profitable. Some examples include:

  • Canopy Growth Corp.: forward P/E of 659.
  • MedReleaf: forward P/E of 88.
  • Aurora Cannabis: forward P/E of 98.
  • Cronos Group: forward P/E of 304.

Mind you, this doesn't include the dozens of pot stocks that aren't expected to be profitable in 2019 that have nevertheless seen their valuations soar by triple or quadruple digits. This is a high-growth industry, but it's rarely, if ever, referred to as a "value" with future P/E ratios like these.

However, the generalization that value stocks don't exist in the marijuana industry, while true for most pot stocks, isn't true for them all. There is one marijuana stock that could very well could be called both a growth story and value stock. That company is OrganiGram Holdings (NASDAQOTH: OGRMF).

An indoor cannabis grow farm.

Image source: Getty Images.

Say hello to the only marijuana value stock

OrganiGram is a New Brunswick-based cannabis grower that's attempting to take on some of the bigger names in the industry. Perhaps the most exciting news is a revision announced earlier this week that it expects to yield substantially more from expansion at its Moncton facility than it had originally predicted.

According to the press release, the company's data-driven model has been producing yields that are in some instances 50% higher than previously forecast. OrganiGram expects these higher yields to become the norm, not an anomaly. With improvements in cultivation and environmental design in its coming expansion phases -- the company is undertaking a four-phase expansion that's estimated to be complete in April 2020 -- along with economy of scale optimization in pre-vegetation and cloning processes, the company lifted its fully funded production forecast to 113,000 kilograms of cannabis a year, up from 65,000 kilograms.

Said CEO Greg Engel:

We are seeing some harvest yields that are more than 400 grams per square foot a year and have witnessed the quality, density and size of flowers improve tremendously. With these results we are revising our current production forecast estimates as well as those for our next expansion, set to break ground in April 2018, so that by early 2020 we will be producing over 110,000 kg/annum from fully funded operations. 

Aside from simply outperforming expectations by a mile, OrganiGram has two production aspects that make it particularly attractive. First, as alluded earlier, its entire expansion is occurring at the Moncton facility, rather than spreading its facilities across multiple sites. Focusing on a single grow site should help internalize and minimize costs.

Second, OrganiGram hasn't been shy about promoting cannabis oils in its product portfolio. Oils and extracts are a considerably higher-priced, but higher-margin, product. Even though dried cannabis sales have fallen by 65,000 grams in the company's first-quarter operating results from the prior-year period, a better than quintupling in cannabis oil sales to 419,000 ml from 77,000 ml in the year-ago quarter sent total revenue more than 25% higher. OrganiGram will likely lean on oils and extracts to boost its margins in the years that lie ahead. 

A bottle of dried cannabis tipped over onto a messy pile of cash.

Image source: Getty Images.

Yes, OrganiGram is a value stock

Based on current Wall Street forecasts, OrganiGram is valued at 35 times its forward earnings for fiscal 2019. Though 35 times earnings isn't traditionally considered to be a value stock -- that's a higher P/E than the S&P 500 -- it is an incredible value when we look at the company's price/earnings-to-growth ratio.

In 2018 and 2019, Wall Street is expecting OrganiGram's respective sales to grow by 253% and 271%. However, analysts don't have much of a forecast beyond 2019. And, mind you, these forecasts don't include the company's recently upgraded production forecast. Even if OrganiGram generated 0% sales growth for 2020, 2021, and 2022, which is highly unlikely, its average five-year sales growth rate would still be 67%. That would place OrganiGram at a PEG ratio of just 0.52. Any PEG ratio below 1 is considered to be a value.

Based on this, OrganiGram appears to be a serious growth stock that's lurking in value territory. Aggressive investors with a stomach for volatility may want to give it a closer look.

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Sean Williams 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.