Sure, Aurora Cannabis (NYSE:ACB) shares are down around 25% so far this year. And, yes, the stock is more than 60% off its highs set in the first quarter. But the growth prospects for the global cannabis industry still appear to be very good. Aurora remains a top candidate to prosper in this global market over the long run.
But what about the short term? Is Aurora destined to underperform for a while to come? Not necessarily. In fact, there are three very plausible reasons Aurora's shares could soar by the end of 2019.
1. Its Q1 results could be impressive
The most obvious way Aurora could rebound strongly is by reporting impressive fiscal 2020 first-quarter results. Those results will probably be announced by early December. Don't discount the possibility that they could be better than expected.
It's easy to overlook that Aurora's fiscal 2019 Q4 results weren't bad. The main problem was that the company had given overly optimistic guidance just a few weeks earlier. Aurora's net revenue in Q4 jumped 52% from the previous quarter. The company reported negative adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), but it's trending in the right direction.
There are a couple of factors that should work to Aurora's advantage in Q1. The company's higher production capacity will enable it to sell more cannabis in Canada and in Europe, particularly Germany. And with its Aurora Sky facility's low production costs, Aurora's margins should improve.
Remember that companies play a game of expectations with earnings results. Aurora lost that game in the last quarter, but it could just as easily win it in Q1.
2. It could land a big partner
We know that Aurora wants to strike a deal with a major partner from outside the cannabis industry. The company hired billionaire investor Nelson Peltz as a strategic advisor to help find one or more partners, especially within the consumer packaged goods industry. What we don't know is how much progress has been made on this front.
There have been a few hints about Aurora's activity. In the company's Q4 conference call in September, CEO Terry Booth said that Aurora's "strategic partners are helping us talk to some of the top companies in the world" about the U.S. hemp cannabidiol opportunity. He added that "probably 90% of my time is dealt on new opportunities" related to potential business development deals.
No news could be good news if the discussions that appear to be under way lead to an agreement. Aurora could announce a major partnership at any time. An attractive deal with a big partner announced within the next couple of months would almost certainly light a fire beneath Aurora's shares.
3. The Cannabis 2.0 market could open with a roar
Although the new Canadian regulations for cannabis derivatives went into effect on Oct. 17, the market for these products, referred to by some as "Cannabis 2.0," won't really launch until mid-December. That's because companies must submit a 60-day notice before introducing any new cannabis products.
There's some uncertainty about how strong sales for vape products will be because of the health concerns linked to vaping that have arisen in both the U.S. and Canada. Some also question whether cannabis-infused beverages will attract consumer interest, although that's not a problem for Aurora in the near term since the company is taking its time before introducing beverage products.
But this uncertainty sets up another opportunity for Aurora. If early reports indicate that the launch of the Cannabis 2.0 market is going a lot better than expected, it would boost many Canadian marijuana stocks, including Aurora.
Any discussion of the opportunities for investing in marijuana stocks requires a lot of tentative language. You probably noticed I used the words "if" and "could" quite a bit in describing the three reasons why Aurora stock could soar. The reality is that there's still a good chance that Aurora's share price will continue to flounder for the next couple of months.
In Aurora's Q4 conference call, executives mentioned two specific reasons why the company's Q1 results could be less than what investors hope for. CFO Glen Ibbott cautioned that the level of bulk sales of cannabis in the fourth quarter probably wouldn't "be consistent or repeatable." Chief Corporate Officer Cam Battley noted that Aurora anticipates "a bit of a plateau" for sales of adult-use recreational marijuana products before the launch of the Cannabis 2.0 market.
There's also no guarantee that Aurora will announce a partnership deal prior to the end of 2019. And with only a few weeks of sales of cannabis derivatives products in December, any hopes of a Cannabis 2.0 boost could be delayed until next year.
But it's not out of the question whatsoever that any or all of these three potential catalysts send Aurora's shares soaring by New Year's Eve.