Aurora Cannabis (ACB): Transformation on Track

Aurora Cannabis (ACB – Research Report) continues to confirm a strong transformation to a cannabis company focused on profitable growth while Canopy Growth (CGC – Research Report) is still chasing large market opportunities with wild spending. The company is now on track to spend about 25% of the SG&A as the largest Canadian cannabis stock while approaching the same revenue levels.

The Edmonton-based company is a far better value on weakness despite having no major investor and struggling over the last year with a weak balance sheet. The company still has work to get done to reach EBITDA profits, but Aurora Cannabis is the far better stock with the transformation on track.

Operational Excellence

The best part of the story is that Aurora Cannabis set a transformational target in February and the company is already hitting this goal. With the targets in sight on transforming SG&A costs, the company is now moving forward with consolidating production facilities to the low-cost areas with considerable capacity and eliminating the high-cost facilities no longer needed for the global opportunity that never materialized.

Aurora Cannabis forecasts reaching an SG&A target of C$42 million in FQ1, thereby cutting operational expenses by an astonishing 50% in just a few months. Staff levels were cut by 25% to achieve these goals with some apparent high cost consultants let go as well.

The company can now achieve EBITDA profits on substantially lower revenues. The good news is that consolidating production facilities will help improve gross margins with Pablo Zuanic of Cantor Fitzgerald forecasting an 8-point boost to gross margins.

In prior quarters, Aurora Cannabis was stuck on mid-40s gross margins while clearly over producing inventory similar to the rest of the Canadian cannabis industry. The consolidation of five small facilities will help reduce costs that were averaging C$1.15 per gram while other industry players were down below C$1.00.

Once the cannabis company reaches C$100 million in quarterly revenues, the new 50% gross margins will generate up to C$8 million in operating income. This metric assumes a stable C$42 million SG&A quarterly run rate as revenues rise.

Focused Opportunity

Canopy Growth highlighted how the once promising global opportunity is limited to the U.S., Canada and Germany. These three countries are set to account of C$63 billion or up to 90% of the global total addressable market by 2023.

Aurora Cannabis is a strong player in both the Canadian cannabis market and Germany medical that make up the majority of the revenue TAM outside of U.S. Similar to Canopy Growth, both companies have recently entered the U.S. CBD market while being currently blocked from the massive C$42 billion TAM in the U.S. recreational and medical cannabis markets.

The key here is that both companies have the same market opportunities and areas of focus, but one still plans to spend wildly on SG&A due to a C$2.0 billion cash balance while the other has become a strong operator due to the requirement to focus. Aurora Cannabis is on the path to positive EBITDA while Canopy Growth has no apparent EBITDA profit goals.

Takeaway

The key investor takeaway is that the valuation equation for Aurora Cannabis remains far more compelling here as the market has pushed the stock back down to a market valuation of $1.4 billion. Canopy Growth is far too expensive at $5.7 billion with no meaningful improvement in financials while Aurora Cannabis is on schedule for solid EBITDA profits in FY21 starting in July.

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Disclosure: No position.