Canada markets closed

Pot stocks jump on hopes for COVID-19 buying, higher January sales

(GETTY)

Cannabis shares climbed on Friday as investors continued to bet the COVID-19 outbreak will prompt consumers to stock up. Statistics Canada also reported a modest uptick in monthly sales at pot shops.

Battered Toronto-listed shares of HEXO (HEXO.TO)(HEXO) and Aurora Cannabis (ACB.TO)(ACB) jumped 14 and 12 per cent, respectively, in afternoon trading. Shares of Sundial Growers (SNDL), a smaller Alberta-based producer, shot up more than 20 per cent.

Statistics Canada reported on Friday that cannabis retail sales grew 4.3 per cent month-over-month in January to $154 million.

That may have added to the influence of positive sentiment from analysts, who expect consumers worried about being stuck at home due to the COVID-19 virus will drive stronger sales. 

Bank of America’s Christopher Carey said in a note on Thursday that cannabis sales are accelerating across North America, implying pot is a defensive investment category like alcohol and tobacco. 

Bobby Burleson of Canaccord Genuity predicted “near-term strength on the retail front as customers stock up on cannabis ahead of uncertainty.”

“Customers stock up, fearful of mandated dispensary shutdowns, even in locations where dispensaries have been deemed an essential services,” he wrote in a note to clients on Thursday.

Canopy Growth (WEED.TO)(CGC) was among the Canadian companies to announce retail store closures due to COVID-19 concerns. Meanwhile, multiple provinces reported strengthening sales to consumers and authorized retailers.