On Tuesday, MedMen Enterprises Inc., which sells authorized cannabis in California and 11 different states, backed out of a blockbuster deal to purchase PharmaCann, a Chicago-based marijuana firm with operations in eight states.
In its announcement, Los Angeles-based MedMen cited the steep pullback in U.S. and Canadian cannabis shares this 12 months. It famous the Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index, a Canadian exchange-traded fund that tracks cannabis shares, is down 47% since March.
“The underperformance has made it more and more extra essential to allocate capital effectively, given the present business headwinds,” MedMen mentioned in a information launch.
The deal was introduced in December and was seen as a forerunner of a wave of marijuana business mergers and acquisitions promising massive returns for traders.
Billions poured into marijuana shares final 12 months as traders acquired on board with the large, multistate operators with the funds to amass pricey licenses within the 11 states the place it’s authorized to promote cannabis merchandise.
A flurry of offers in late 2018 and early this 12 months continued to entice traders. However hopes of mergers getting fast regulatory approval quickly pale because the U.S. Justice Division started to evaluation the offers for potential antitrust violations. That evaluation course of has but to be accomplished, although some analysts count on the offers may start closing as early as this month.
“There’s been a delay in M&A exercise and that’s prompted traders to step away from the sector till they know M&A exercise goes to select up once more,” mentioned Bobby Burleson, an analyst with Canaccord Genuity. “That’s sort of dampened enthusiasm for the sector, as a result of that was one exit path that appeared prefer it was closed briefly.”
Traders have had no scarcity of causes currently to bitter on marijuana shares, past the delay in deal approvals.
Vaping-related deaths and sicknesses have contributed to the slide in some cannabis shares. States together with Massachusetts and Montana have additionally briefly banned gross sales of flavored digital cigarettes and vaping merchandise in a bid to scale back underage use.
Vaping of marijuana merchandise in states the place it’s authorized for adults account for over 1 / 4 of income for the sector and, in some circumstances, 30% or extra of gross sales, Burleson mentioned.
“Individuals are ready to see whether or not or not there’s been a detrimental influence over all on business income,” he mentioned.
Additionally weighing on marijuana shares is a enhance in inventory market volatility caused by a slowing U.S. economic system and uncertainty over the commerce struggle between the U.S. and China.
Nonetheless, cannabis shares are an enormous loser to date this 12 months, relative to the broader market.
Take into account, the ETFMG Different Harvest trade traded fund, which focuses on cannabis shares: It’s down 19.6% this 12 months and off almost 50% from a 12 months in the past. And shares in a few of the largest marijuana firms, together with Tilary, Cover Progress, and Aurora Hashish are down greater than 50% from a 12 months in the past.
Many massive firms which have invested in cannabis companies are additionally down greater than 10% from a 12 months in the past, together with Altria Group, AbbVie, Molson Coors Brewing and Constellation Manufacturers.
By comparability, the benchmark S&P 500 index is up 15.4% this 12 months and hovering barely above the place it stood 12 months in the past.
A much less welcoming inventory market can restrict an organization’s capability to lift capital by issuing inventory. MedMen famous that a big portion of PharmaCann’s cultivation and manufacturing property requires “important capital expenditures.”
“There’s been quite a bit much less capability to go to the markets and lift capital, so traders are scrutinizing the stability sheets of public firms to see who’s finest positioned to climate the dry spell in capital markets,” Burleson mentioned.
Now that it has backed out of its bid for PharmaCann, MedMen mentioned it intends to give attention to constructing its retail model and on-line enterprise. In trade for forgiving some debt, the corporate is taking sure cannabis licenses and different property in Illinois and Virginia from PharmaCann.
“Trying on the PharmaCann portfolio immediately, Illinois has emerged as essentially the most engaging alternative for our longer-term, strategic progress plan,” mentioned Adam Bierman, MedMen co-founder and CEO.