Shares of Canopy Growth Corp. soared as much as 20 per cent Friday, as the company reported shrinking losses and better-than-expected cannabis revenues in its fiscal third quarter.
The results were a marked departure from consecutive quarterly revenue declines some of the biggest licensed producers have experienced over the past nine months due in part to the slow ramp-up of retail stores in Ontario, quality concerns and high pot prices relative to the black market.
The Smiths Falls, Ont.-based licensed producer reported an adjusted EBITDA loss of $92 million, versus $156 million in the previous quarter, owing largely to a vast reduction in operational expenses and corporate overhead which plunged by 59 per cent quarter over quarter.
Canopy’s net revenue rose 13 per cent quarter-over-quarter to $123.8 million, excluding a major restructuring charge the company took in its second quarter from returned products — specifically, its line of CBD-heavy soft-gel capsules.
“A key priority for us has been to reduce cash burn. And that will continue to be a priority for the business going forward,” said newly-appointed CEO David Klein on a post-earnings call with analysts.
The combination of weak sales, product returns and a high cash-burn rate over the past year has compelled cannabis companies, including Canopy, to restructure their businesses, cut unnecessary costs and improve corporate governance in a drive to achieve profitability.
Canopy’s competitors Tilray Inc. and Aurora Cannabis Inc. laid off hundreds of workers last week.
Last summer, Canopy began a major rejigging of its business by firing its co-founder and longtime CEO Bruce Linton after consecutive quarters of disappointing results. Klein, former chief financial officer of Constellation Brands Inc. — a major shareholder in Canopy — took over as company CEO in January.
“We are not going to run out of cash. We have a lot of levers to pull in that regard. We have to slow our capital expenditures and we will pull back with M&A activity,” Klein told analysts on the call.
Canopy’s Canadian cannabis revenue was $83.5 million for the quarter, a nine per cent increase from the previous quarter. Much of that came from cannabis sales to provincial retailers, due in part to 140 new cannabis retail stores becoming active in the last three months of 2019.
Domestic recreational sales directly to Canopy’s own retail stores increased by 16 per cent, while Canadian medical cannabis sales increased 5 per cent quarter-over-quarter.
Canopy’s acquisition last year of vape pen company Storz & Bickel, and skincare firm The Works brought in an additional $33.4 million in revenue for the licensed producer this quarter, up 42 per cent from last quarter.
“We were particularly encouraged to see Canopy print a solid sequential increase in its recreational sales in a period where many of its peers are anticipated to see flat to lower revenues to end 2019,” wrote Canaccord Genuity Corp. analyst Matt Bottomley in a note to clients.
Canopy also reported a gross margin of 34 per cent, driven primarily by a strong performance in its domestic recreational business, and the bump in revenue from its non-cannabis businesses.
“Sales are 15 per cent ahead of consensus and EBITDA loss is $17 million better than expected. International acquisitions helped, but certainly the domestic market improved sequentially. Better cost management is starting to show,” wrote Pablo Zuanic, a cannabis analyst with Cantor Fitzgerald.
Some analysts on the call expressed concern over the licensed producer’s relatively high inventory levels, and ability of the domestic market to absorb that supply. Between March 31, 2019 and Dec. 31, 2019, Canopy’s inventory soared from approximately 262,000 kilograms to 623,000 kilograms.
Cannabis companies had been stocking up on inventory in the lead-up to the legalization of cannabis 2.0 products — vape pens, edibles and topicals — but the slow opening of retail stores across the country and the vaping health scare have caused substantial supply chain hiccups.
Canopy’s chief financial officer Mike Lee acknowledged that the company needed to “get better” at “connecting consumer demand signals to the inventory that we are building.”
In light of the oversupply situation, the company curtailed production in one of their largest greenhouse facilities in Delta, B.C., Lee said.
“We are going to continue to make sure we are not stocking out at retail, but at the same time, we need to bring down our total inventory balance. We need to be able to both decrease our inventory and stay on the shelf in stores,” Lee told analysts on the earnings call.
Chris Damas, an independent cannabis analyst and author of The BCMI Report, attributed Canopy’s stock surge to short-covering. “The lack of big ‘blow-up’ bad news from Canopy and steady-as-she-goes revenue improvement after the Aurora Cannabis debacle is welcome,” he wrote.
Oil prices fall as market weighs coronavirus demand impact – CNBC
Oil pumpjacks in silhouette at sunset.
Oil prices fell on Tuesday, tracking losses in financial markets on lingering concerns over the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak in China and its effect on oil demand.
“Oil prices remain heavy as energy traders may have been overly optimistic as to the crude demand impact of the coronavirus, and in fading optimism that OPEC + will come through with deeper production cuts in March,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.
“Optimism that China would see a return to normalcy in travel and trade next quarter was probably wrong… The rest of world is exercising caution on virus spreading fears and that will do no favors for crude’s demand outlook.”
U.S. stock futures slipped from record levels on Tuesday after Apple Inc, the most valuable company in the United States, said it will not meet its revenue guidance for the March quarter as the coronavirus outbreak slowed production and weakened demand in China.
The number of new coronavirus infections in mainland China fell below 2,000 on Tuesday for the first time since January, Chinese health officials said, although global experts warn it is too early to say the outbreak is being contained.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) said last week the virus was set to cause oil demand to fall by 435,000 barrels per day (bpd) year-on-year in the first quarter, in what would be the first quarterly drop since the financial crisis in 2009.
Still, with some Chinese independent refineries snapping up crude supplies after being absent from the market for weeks, traders held out hopes that China’s demand could recover in coming months.
Investors are also anticipating that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, including Russia, will approve a proposal to deepen production cuts to tighten global supplies and support prices.
The group, known as OPEC+, has an agreement to cut oil output by 1.7 million bpd until the end of March.
Oil output from Libya has fallen sharply since Jan. 18 because of a blockade of ports and oil fields by groups loyal to eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar.
Libya’s national oil corporation, NOC, said on Monday that oil production was at 135,745 barrels per day as of Monday, compared with 1.2 million bpd before the stoppage.
Pier 1 Imports closing all Canadian stores as it files for bankruptcy protection – Global News
The Texas-based company has been struggling with increased competition from budget-friendly online retailers such as Wayfair.
Pier 1 says it will pursue a sale, with a March 23 deadline to submit bids.
The company last month announced it would close 450 stores, including all its Canadian locations.
Pier 1’s Canadian website now directs customers to a short statement announcing the closures and thanks them for their loyalty.
The company is also commencing creditor protection proceedings in Canada.
Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP are serving as Canadian legal advisers.
In a statement Monday, the company said it will continue to shutter stores as part of its bankruptcy proceedings. The company, which was founded in 1962, is also closing two distribution centres.
A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. In the meantime, Pier 1 said lenders have committed approximately $256 million in debtor-in-possession financing so it can continue its operations during the Chapter 11 proceedings.
“Today’s actions are intended to provide Pier 1 with additional time and financial flexibility as we now work to unlock additional value for our stakeholders through a sale of the company,” Pier 1 CEO and Chief Financial Officer Robert Riesbeck said in a statement. Riesbeck, an executive with previous corporate turnarounds, joined Pier 1 last summer.
Pier 1’s sales fell 13 per cent to $358 million in its most recent quarter, which ended Nov. 30. It reported a net loss of $59 million for the quarter as it struggled to draw customers to its stores. Pier 1 has been trying to declutter its stores, improve online sales and draw in younger customers.
Pier 1’s shares have fallen 45 per cent since the start of the year. They closed at $3.58 per share on Friday.
— With files from The Associated Press.
© 2020 The Canadian Press
Bombardier to sell train unit to France’s Alstom, shedding biggest division – Toronto Star
MONTREAL— Bombardier, the supplier of Toronto’s signature streetcars and subways, has reached a US$8.2-billion deal to sell its rail business to French train giant Alstom SA. Both the TTC and Metrolinx say the sale won’t immediately impact their operations.
The company is narrowing its focus to commit itself solely to business jets while casting off its largest division, in part to help pay down US$9.3 billion in debt.
“Going forward, we will focus all our capital, energy and resources on accelerating growth and driving margin expansion in our market-leading US$7 billion business aircraft franchise,” CEO Alain Bellemare said in a statement Monday.
The news comes only weeks after the TTC took delivery of the last of 204 new Bombardier streetcars. All the maintenance of those vehicles is done in-house at the TTC, said transit spokesperson Stuart Green.
The $1.25 billion streetcar order was believed to be the biggest in the world when it was announced in 2009. But the 11 intervening years were an especially problematic chapter in the city’s long transit history with Bombardier.
The first two cars arrived in Toronto in 2014. But a series of manufacturing defects and missed delivery targets caused tempers to flare at the TTC and city hall. At one point the first 67 streetcars had to be recalled and repaired. Meantime, the TTC was desperately trying to extend the life of its old CLRV streetcars and run buses to supplement service on routes that desperately needed the new, bigger vehicles.
Toronto’s newest subways, the $1 billion Toronto Rockets, were also made by Bombardier. Ordered in 2006, they proved controversial for former Toronto Mayor David Miller, who defended the sole-source contract because it supported jobs at Bombardier’s Thunder Bay plant. The subways arrived late due to the bankruptcy of Bombardier’s New York door manufacturer but entered service in 2011.
Metrolinx said that “initial indications from Bombardier suggest it is business as usual,” with its order for Bombardier light rail vehicles for the Eglinton Crosstown, GO buses and the operation of GO and Union-Pearson Express trains. Most of GO’s locomotives are built by U.S.-based MotivePower.
The Finch West and Hurontario light rail lines are being furnished by Alstom, said spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins.
“We look forward to continuing with all of our rail delivery partners to bring better transit to the region,” she said.
Toronto transit historian Ed Levy said the sale of Bombardier’s train division is the end of an era that was for decades a happy match between the city and the company.
“They really screwed up on the streetcar thing but not on the very large orders of the subway cars over the years. When they started doing off-shore stuff that’s where their problems began,” he said.
The acquisition also signals an effort by Alstom to scale up amid rising competition from China’s state-owned CRRC, the world’s largest train maker.
The transaction will see the Caisse de depot et placement, which owns a 32.5 per cent stake in Bombardier’s train division, become Alstom’s largest shareholder.
The deal converts the Quebec pension giant’s investment in Bombardier Transportation into Alstom shares, handing the Caisse about 18 per cent of the Paris-based company with an investment of up to $4 billion, depending on closing conditions. The transaction includes an additional Caisse investment of $1 billion.
Bombardier said net proceeds from the deal will be between US$4.2 billion and US$4.5 billion after deducting the Caisse’s equity position of roughly US$2.2 billion, as well as adjustments for debts and other liabilities.
The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2021 if it can move through regulatory hurdles.
Alstom’s purchase is expected to come under intense scrutiny from antitrust regulators in the European Union. Last year, EU authorities blocked a proposed merger between Alstom and the train division of German industrial conglomerate Siemens AG, arguing the proposed tie-up would result in higher price tags on signalling systems and bullet trains.
Montreal-based Bombardier has sold several divisions since Bellemare took the helm in 2015, including its turboprop and aerostructure segments as well as its commercial airline unit, once touted as the company’s crown jewel.
Bombardier announced last month it was working to reduce debt and pursuing strategic options, which analysts and other observers suggested could include the sale of the company’s rail or business jet units.
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Bombardier shares have fallen about 70 per cent since July 2018 while Alstom’s have risen by more than 50 per cent over the past two years, including 3.5 per cent Monday.
The announcement was made after the Paris Stock Exchange closed Monday. The Toronto Stock Exchange was closed for Family Day.
The new deal and other recent transactions will leave Bombardier with between US$6.5 and US$7 billion of cash on hand, “putting the company on a brand-new footing” to deal with its sizable debt, Bellemare said.
The company has already ramped up production of high-margin business jets, which it expects will drive double-digit revenue growth with 160 unit sales in 2020 amid a $16.3-billion backlog. But delays and “some volatility” continue to plague several “large, challenging” rail contracts, Bellemare said last Thursday.
While its business jets are now at full production, analysts highlight the cyclical luxury market of private planes in comparison to the relatively stable field of rail car and network construction, which is fuelled by government infrastructure projects.
Nonetheless, hefty production costs and lower margins remain an issue in the rail business, said Jacques Roy, professor of transport management at HEC Montreal business school.
“You can see the fixed costs increasing all the time, because they pretty much have to establish facilities everywhere they sell equipment,” Roy said, pointing to Bombardier’s plant in Plattsburgh, N.Y., which makes trains for U.S. clients.
“If they were a little bit better at this they would be able to compete with the Chinese. They could brag that, ‘Okay, we’re not as cheap as the Chinese, but we produce much better quality, we deliver on time.’ But they don’t. That’s a concern to me,” he said.
The rail and business jet divisions represent Bombardier’s only remaining revenue streams — about 53 per cent and 47 per cent, respectively, of $15.76 billion in revenue last year — after Bombardier sold its waterbomber unit, Q400 turboprop business, CRJ regional jet program and flight-training enterprise over the past four years.
And last week, Bombardier announced the sale of its remaining stake in the A220 commercial jetliner program — formerly known as the C Series — as it reported quarterly results last Thursday, marking the end of its failed bid to take on the commercial aircraft duopoly of Airbus SE and Boeing Co.
Bombardier, founded in Valcourt, Que., in 1942 as a snowmobile manufacturer, now stares down a US$9.32-billion debt load — nearly 60 per cent of it due within five years.
The rail business, Bombardier Transportation, is based in Berlin. In Canada, it employs some 1,000 workers at factories in Quebec’s Bas-St-Laurent region and in St-Bruno-de-Montarville, on Montreal’s South Shore.
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