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Investing, Stocks  | May 17, 2019

Canopy Growth (NYSE: CGC ) just isn't getting as high as it used to. But CGC stock isn't alone. The marijuana stocks have lost a lot of their buzz lately. The sector fund, the Alternative Harvest ETF(NYSEARCA: MJ ) has dropped roughly 15% from its recent highs in March. On top of that, its current $33 share price is well off the $45 level where marijuana stocks peaked just before Canada's legalization went into effect last fall.

CGC stock has fared better than many of its rivals. But its stock hasn't been able to hit new highs in awhile either, as the $50 price level has been key resistance. With the company making major acquisitions ahead of earnings and short sellers betting the farm against the stock, expect CGC stock to make big moves in coming weeks.

CGC Stock Cons

Acreage Deal Isn't A Standard Acquisition: Canopy Growth recently announced a deal to purchase  Acreage Holdings (OTCMKTS: ACRGF ) . This deal is a rather odd one for a number of reasons.

To start with, the deal is contingent on the U.S. legalizing marijuana federally. The deal is structured with a 90 month (7 and a half years) time limit. It will be terminated if federal legalization doesn't occur within that time frame. As it is, Canopy is taking some risk. That is because it is paying a not insubstantial $300 million upfront for the deal, along with far more than that in CGC stock once the deal closes.

Given that the deal could take ages to close, Canopy could be giving up a lot of value with its shares. That will depend on where the share price is in coming years. Additionally, there's a risk that Acreage shareholders will oppose the deal, as Canopy is offering a rather modest premium for the acquisition.

CGC Stock Hitting Major Resistance:  From a technical analysis standpoint, Canopy Growth stock is starting to get itself into trouble. For the better part of a year now, CGC stock has stopped dead in its tracks every time it reaches near the $50 mark.

Canopy Growth stock first hit the $50 level last fall. It spent the better part of September trading around that figure. Shares subsequently dumped all the way to $25. But CGC stock bounced back, hitting $50 again in January. That rally petered out, and shares declined 20%. In April, CGC stock again briefly reclaimed the $50 level but has already dropped back almost 15% since that point. $50 is turning into a major resistance point for Canopy stock. Going forward, bulls need to get the stock to close above $50 before serious trading momentum can get going again.

Valuation Is Still Strained:  Canopy Growth - and most of its publicly traded rivals that focus on recreational marijuana - have yet to deliver compelling earnings. In fact, for many firms, free cash burn has actually gotten worse. Companies keep ramping up their growth expenses without enough revenues to offset those costs just yet.

Already, we're starting to see issues on the revenue side. The price of recreational marijuana keeps dropping, sales volumes are flattening out, and producers seemingly have a huge oversupply of marijuana on hand. Canopy still has time to find its way to profitability thanks to the Constellation (NYSE: STZ ) cash infusion. But it's burning through that money awfully quickly.

Not only are the operations losing money, but it keeps making big purchases like Acreage and the German deal announced earlier this month for close to another $250 million.

CGC Stock Pros

Deals Could Pay Off Big:  While these latest deals certainly come with risk, they could pay off for Canopy. The German deal, acquiring the C3 Cannabinoid Compound Company looks interesting in particular. C3 has developed various products to treat pain in cancer patients, among other uses.

C3 already has a healthy $30 million or so in annual revenues. This suggests that Canopy only paid about 8x annual sales for the deal. Compared to many of the deals going off in the hyped-up marijuana space, that's a defensible valuation. $30 million in (presumably fast-growing) annual revenues will be enough to move the needle for Canopy Growth more generally as well.

CGC Stock Holding Up Better:  Canopy Growth stock is having a mighty difficult time trying to break out above the $50/share level. But at least it is still somewhere near its recent trading highs.

Other pot stocks have gotten crushed lately. Cronos (NASDAQ: CRON ),  Aurora (NYSE: ACB ) and  Aphria (NASDAQ: APHA ) have all fared worse than Canopy. There's a lot of value in being the strongest performing major stock within the industry. When marijuana stocks rally as a group, it may be enough to power CGC stock past that $50 barrier and onward to new all-time highs.

Short Squeeze Potential : As I sometimes warn, you generally shouldn't base a whole investment thesis on the potential for a short squeeze. That said, if you are already considering taking a long position, high short interest could be the thing that causes the stock to run in the short term.

Canopy Growth's stock has an incredible 75 million shares shorted (on its U.S. listing). That makes up 35% of the float. This is among the highest short ratios you'll find out there for a large widely-traded stock today. Clearly short sellers are betting on Canopy's next earnings report being a dud. That would be in line with what other pot players have produced recently. But if they're wrong, the stock could make a violent move higher.

CGC Stock Verdict

I don't see this as a great time to get into CGC stock. The firm has outperformed its other marijuana peers recently. But a poor earnings report could drive CGC stock right back down with the rest of the pack. Given how strong the $50 resistance level has been, bears are logically pressing their bets here.

If Canopy Growth can deliver a strong earnings report, that would change everything. But until investors see a clearer path to profits and a more stable business trajectory, odds will continue to favor the bears. I'd stick to the sidelines in Canopy stock for the time being.

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