If multi-state operators (MSOs) were hoping to turn over a new leaf in terms of stock performance with the start of a new year, they ran out of luck.
Last year was not pretty for the MSO sector. All the large cap MSOs were down double-digits. The best among the bunch, with an 11% loss in 2021, was Green Thumb Industries (OTCQX:GTBIF). The worst? Columbia Care (OTCQX:CCHWF) with a nearly 56% loss. That was followed by Verano Holdings (OTCQX:VRNOF) with a ~48% decline.
The stock losses in 2021 are even more striking in light of the fact most MSOs had large revenue gains year over year.
The downward trend continued with MSOs in January. The worst performer was Trulieve Cannabis (OTCQX:TCNNF) with a decline of more than 26%. The best performer was Columbia Care, down just over 6%. Second best was Cresco Labs (OTCQX:CRLBF), down ~9%. Curaleaf (OTCPK:CURLF), the fourth largest MSO in terms of market cap, lost 14% last year.
By comparison, MSO stocks had a very good start to 2021. Large MSOs ended January 2021 well and continued to go higher through the first quarter. And then the bottom fell out.
In a recent newsletter, Alan Brochstein and Joel Theard of New Cannabis Ventures (“NCV”) noted that the NCV Global Cannabis Stocks Index fell 18% in January and is down 70% since its peak in February 2021. Over the last year, the NCV American Cannabis Operator Index — which includes MSOs — has fallen ~56%.
“For cannabis stocks, 2022 is looking like 2020 four weeks into the year, with a prior downtrend extending,” Brochstein and Theard wrote. “It’s unrealistic to expect cannabis stocks won’t struggle further if the overall market continues to sell-off aggressively, but we believe that some cannabis companies will fare better than others, if so.”
The pair add that a drop in share prices has made it more difficult for many companies to achieve equity raises, and those that have done so have seen further declines.
“Companies that have a proven ability to access non-equity capital, whether through debt or sale-leaseback, are likely to find favor over those that can’t do so,” Brochstein and Theard said. “Investors should be aware of which companies have proven their ability to access capital.”