Earnings

Shares of Canadian pot company Cronos slid by more than 5 percent Tuesday after reporting disappointing fourth-quarter revenue.

In the quarter, Cronos’ sales totaled 5.6 million Canadian dollars ($4.2 million), up from CA$1.6 million ($1.2 million) in the same period last year and calculated based on today’s exchange rates. Yet that figure was still well short of analysts’ average estimate of CA$10.4 million ($7.8 million), according to data compiled by FactSet.

The company reported a net loss of CA$11.8 ($8.8 million) in the quarter, a loss of 6 Canadian cents per share. In the year-ago quarter, Cronos earned CA$667,000 ($498,412) equaling a Canadian penny per share.

Canada legalized adult recreational use of marijuana in October, making the fourth quarter a closely watched one.

For all of 2018, Cronos’ revenue reached CA$15.7 million ($11.7 million), up from CA$4.1 million ($3 million) in 2017. It posted a net loss of CA$19.2 million ($14.3 million), or a loss of 11 Canadian cents per share, compared to a profit of CA$1.8 million ($1.3 million), or 1 Canadian cent per share in 2017.

Cronos said its expenses more than tripled during the fourth quarter to CA$12.4 million ($9.3 million) after pouring CA$2.4 million ($1.8 million) in research and development. It also hired new employees and pursued strategic partnerships with tobacco giant Altria and biotech company Ginkgo Bioworks, among others. For the full year, Cronos’ operating expenses totaled CA$29.4 million ($22 million), a 215 percent increase from the CA$9.3 million ($7 million) it spent in 2017.

Altria bought a 45 percent stake in Cronos for $1.8 billion in December. Shortly after, the tobacco company spent $12.8 billion for a 35 percent stake in e-cigarette company Juul. When asked whether investors could assume this would lead to Cronos and Juul working together, Cronos CEO Michael Gorenstein told analysts he views cannabis and nicotine as two very different markets.

CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabis compound, has become incredibly popular in the U.S. Gorenstein said the company’s original plan was to perfect its strategy in Canada and prepare to eventually bring it to the U.S. He said while that’s still the goal, Cronos will keep a close watch on how the CBD market unfolds in the U.S.

He said Cronos probably won’t telegraph its strategy as clearly as some of its competitors have, though the company is “absolutely excited” about the possible opportunity.

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