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Top executive leaving Aurora Cannabis compounds problems as analysts grow downbeat – The Globe and Mail

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Aurora Cannabis stock dropped 10 per cent Monday.

Richard Drew/The Associated Press

The surprise departure of a top executive at Aurora Cannabis Inc. is weighing on the company, with analysts growing downbeat on its outlook and investors sending its shares to a level not seen since late 2017, before marijuana mania hit Canadian markets.

Aurora’s stock dropped 10 per cent Monday, the first trading day after the company disclosed the abrupt departure of chief corporate officer Cam Battley. Mr. Battley had been Aurora’s public face, often handling media interviews and questions from analysts about the cannabis producer’s strategy.

“It is clear to us that the market is lacking conviction in Aurora, and this update will do little to help that,” Jefferies analyst Owen Bennett wrote in a research note to clients Monday.

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Turnover of senior executives has been rampant among cannabis producers this year, with leaders at Canopy Growth Corp., Aurora, Aphria Inc. and CannTrust Holdings Inc. all departing. With share prices across the board already in free fall after investors lost confidence in the sector, the latest exit compounds the problem for Aurora, whose shares were already down 56 per cent year-to-date before the news broke.

“The biggest issue … is trust, with multiple instances of Aurora missing targets or going against its word,” Mr. Bennett wrote in his research note. “With Battley the ‘face’ of the company, this could have been a factor in his departure.”

Mr. Battley did not return a request for comment and Aurora declined to comment.

In the past few months, investors have seen Aurora miss its revenue guidance last quarter, despite issuing it only three months earlier; dilute shareholders by amending the terms of a convertible debenture, despite assuring shareholders it would not happen; and halt production-facility expansions shortly after announcing that they were progressing well.

Last month, Edmonton-based Aurora reported a 24-per-cent drop in revenue quarter-over-quarter and also announced that it was deferring for the foreseeable future the completion of a 1.6-million-square-foot growing facility in Medicine Hat, as well as halting construction work on a greenhouse in Denmark.

Late Friday, Aurora also revealed in a regulatory filing that board director Jason Dyck sold 1.08 million shares last week, or 57 per cent of his stake. Mr. Dyck did not return a request for comment.

“The sudden departure, during a period of insider selling, dwindling cash to cover payables and sector turmoil, does not send a strong message to investors,” MKM analyst Bill Kirk wrote in a research note to clients Monday. “Directors selling and executives leaving give us increased confidence that profitability is not on the horizon and Aurora’s 2.0 products will do little to turn the ship.”

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Across the industry, producers are hyping “Cannabis 2.0,” a term used for the legalization of marijuana-infused foods, drinks and creams. After a disappointing first year of legalized recreational cannabis, Canadian companies, including Aurora, are hoping that a broader selection of cannabis products will entice potential users.

“We are ready [for Cannabis 2.0] and have launched a diversified portfolio of new product formats and are excited for Canadians to have access to high-quality, safe alternative cannabis products such as edibles, vape pens and other derivatives,” the company said in a statement Monday.

But even if the new wave of products boosts overall sales, Mr. Kirk says that Aurora and its rivals face a tough market. He noted that pricing is already decreasing in order to compete with the black market and that there is an oversupply of cannabis.

“Most new, legal markets have shown decreasing profitability for cultivation, yet consensus expects Canadian licensed producers like Aurora to defy precedents,” he wrote. “With legal price gaps widening versus the illicit channel, we believe growth and addressable market opportunities are smaller than others believe.”

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Ontario reports slight increase in new COVID-19 cases, per cent positivity rate rises – CTV Toronto

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TORONTO —
Ontario is reporting a slight increase in new COVID-19 cases on Sunday as the province’s per cent positivity rate rises.

Officials are reporting 172 new cases of COVID-19 today with two additional deaths.

The province reported 170 new cases on Saturday and 192 on Friday.

The seven-day rolling average remains at 159, compared to 153 a week ago.

Provincial labs processed more than 13,902 test specimens, generating a positivity rate of at least 1.1 per cent, according to the Ministry of Health.

The province’s virus-related death toll stands at 9,313.

Another 144 people recovered from the disease yesterday, resulting in 1,450 active cases across the province.

Right now, there are 88 people in hospital current infected with COVID-19 and 127 patients being treated in intensive care, according to the Ministry of Health.

The hospitalization data presented by the province has been skewed over the past several weeks, which may be explained by a delay in patient reporting.  

Where are the new cases?

Officials are reporting 48 new cases in Toronto, 23 in Peel Region, 11 in Durham Region and 11 in Hamilton.

Update on COVID-19 variants of concern

The Ministry of Health is reporting 131 new cases of the Alpha variant Sunday, bringing the total number of cases in the province to ​​145,386.

Officials reported 16 new cases of Delta variant, B.1.617.2, Sunday and the case total is now 3,913.

Three cases of the Beta variant, B.1.351, were also recorded. So far, there have been a total of 1,492 cases of the Beta variant reported in Ontario.

As for the Gamma variant, P.1, two new cases were recorded today. The total number of Gamma variants recorded in Ontario is now 5,142.

Vaccination update

The province said it administered 103,812 doses of COVID-19 vaccines Saturday.

Throughout Ontario’s seven-month vaccination campaign, over 18.9 million needles have gone into arms.

As of Sunday, 8,569,752 people have received both doses and are considered to be fully vaccinated.

Backstory:

 

The numbers used in this story are found in the Ontario Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any city or region may differ slightly from what is reported by the province, because local units report figures at different times.

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Rio Tinto smelter workers go on strike in Kitimat, B.C. – Business News – Castanet.net

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Approximately 900 Rio Tinto workers at the company’s aluminum smelting facilities in Kitimat, B.C. have gone on strike.

The walkout began today at one minute after midnight. Unifor Local 2301, which represents the workers, had issued a 72-hour strike notice after nearly seven weeks of negotiations.

Jerry Dias, Unifor’s National President, says the strike comes down to what he calls “Rio Tinto’s greed and lack of respect” for the union members working at the Kitimat smelting facilities.

The union says it has proposed the first changes to workers’ retirement income and benefit levels in more than a decade, including moving younger workers to defined benefit from defined contribution pension plans.

It also says negotiations have focused on a backlog of more than 300 grievances resulting from the company’s use of contractors and its refusal to hire full-time workers.

Bargaining had continued up until the strike deadline, and the company had earlier said that it was “committed to working with the union to reach a mutually beneficial outcome.”

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30 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death reported in Manitoba on Sunday – CBC.ca

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There are 30 new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba and one more person has died from the illness, the province’s online coronavirus dashboard says.

Manitoba’s five-day test positivity rate is now 3.2 per cent, the dashboard says, down slightly from 3.3 on Saturday.

The province is no longer issuing COVID-19 news releases on weekends, which means updates on Saturdays and Sundays come from Manitoba’s online dashboards.

Those data portals offer less information than what’s typically included in a news release. For example, they do not provide any information on the age or health region of people who died from the illness.

Those and other details are expected to be revealed in the province’s next news release on Monday.

There are still 103 Manitobans hospitalized after getting COVID-19 and the number of people in intensive care rose by one to 26, the dashboard says.

Manitoba has now reported 1,172 deaths linked to COVID-19. The province’s seven-day new case average sank to just under 44.

On Saturday, the province did 1,465 more tests for the illness, the dashboard says, bringing the total number of swabs completed since the beginning of the pandemic to 865,786.

As of Sunday, Manitoba has fully vaccinated 66 per cent of its eligible population against COVID-19 while 78.6 per cent have at least one dose, the province’s online vaccine dashboard says.

That brings the province slightly closer to its final reopening plan goal of having 80 per cent with at least one dose and at least 75 per cent with both by Sept 6.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 57,446 people in Manitoba have tested positive for COVID-19. The dashboard says 55,719 of them are considered recovered, while 555 are still deemed active cases.

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