Cannabis Watch: Aurora exports first cannabis to U.K., gears up to release earnings after the bell

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Ahead of its quarterly earnings, Aurora Cannabis Inc. said Monday that it had exported its first batch of cannabis oil to the United Kingdom.

Aurora ACB, -4.80% ACB, -3.02%  stock fell 3% in Monday trading. It is set to report fiscal second-quarter earnings after the closing bell Monday. The company said that it was one of the first Canadian licensed pot producers to export product to the U.K., which allows specialist doctors to issue prescriptions for cannabis-based medicine.

Aside from Aurora, the largest Canadian licensed producers such as Canopy Growth Corp., Tilray Inc. and Cronos Group, have all told investors that they harbor ambitions to expand well beyond Canada’s borders into legal markets around the world. Canopy and Aurora have established a complex scheme that gives them the ability to acquire a majority stake in several U.S. companies that they once owned, should the federal government legalize marijuana.

The Toronto Stock Exchange said last year it would delist companies with assets in territories where marijuana is illegal — as it is federally in the U.S. — which prompted Canopy, Aurora and other to set up divest their U.S. holdings but retain the option to buy them back at a later date.

Read now: Cannabis earnings: Pot stocks’ downturn may drown Aurora and others in red ink

Related: How marijuana companies can profit without selling pot

Pot stocks were largely lower Monday. Canopy CGC, -5.32% WEED, -5.03%  stock fell 4%, Cronos CRON, +3.79% CRON, +3.46%  ticked up 0.6%, and Tilray TLRY, -1.34%  dropped 1.6%. The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF MJ, -0.96% which tracks a basket of pot stocks, fell 1.7%, and the Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF HMMJ, -1.43%  fell 1.5%.

In a note to clients Sunday, Stifel analyst Christopher Growe wrote that Canadian licensed cannabis producers and U.S. multi-state operators have outperformed the market by a significant margin in 2019 so far. The Canadian companies are up 50%, the U.S.-based pot companies have gained 34%, as the S&P 500 index rose 8% SPX, +0.11% The Canadian companies have a combined market value of C$60 billion ($45 billion) and the largest eight American pot companies are valued by investors at $17 billion.

The Canadian Securities Exchange has emerged as a home for companies that have operations in the U.S. and wish to have a publicly traded stock. The CSE-listed TerrAscend Corp. said Monday that it plans to acquire the California pot retailer The Apothecarium for $118.4 million in cash and stock. The Apothecarium operates three stores in San Francisco and one in Las Vegas and TerrAscend said it would pay $73.7 million in cash and the rest in stock.

Elsewhere among U.S. stocks, Green Growth Brands Inc. GGBXF, -2.03% which has made a hostile takeover bid for Canadian weed company Aphria Inc., said that it had inked an all-stock deal with Simon Property Group Inc. SPG, -0.14%  to create a chain of cannabidiol, or CBD, stores. GGB said it was paying Simon Property $2.2 million in stock, and an additional $4.5 million in warrants.

Simon Property owns and operates malls across the U.S. and Green Growth said it expects to open the first store in Indianapolis in March. The Food and Drug Administration has said that at the moment, CBD is largely off-limits and that it is illegal to add to food or health products without FDA approval.

The FDA said Monday that it had sent warning letters to 12 companies and online advisory letters to five companies that are claiming their products prevent, treat or cure Alzheimer’s disease, among other diseases and health conditions.

According to Stifel’s Growe, U.S. licensed industry sales will grow to almost $10 billion, from the $6.9 billion his team estimates for 2018. Growe wrote that the estimates don’t include states such as New York, Illinois and New Jersey that will likely adopt adult-recreational cannabis use legislation in 2019. Including New York in 2020 and New Jersey in 2021, Growe wrote he expects sales in the U.S. of $17 billion.

For all of MarketWatch’s coverage of cannabis companies, click here.

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