The cryptocurrency markets are nine months into a bear market, but the animal spirits that drove the bitcoin price to nearly $20,000 haven’t disappeared. Rather, it seems that they have found a new outlet -- pot stocks.
Pot Goes Boom as Crypto Goes Bust
Long a favorite of retail traders on commission-free stock trading app Robinhood, publicly-listed cannabis stocks have gone bananas in recent weeks, driven in part by the impending legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada on Oct. 17.
Publicly-listed pot stocks have been soaring across the board, but one cannabis producer -- Tilray -- has found itself flying higher than the rest.
At one point during premarket trading on Wednesday, Tilray shares went north of $235, representing a cryptocurrency-like 1,282 percent increase since the firm went public at $17 in July. At this level, Tilray had a market cap greater than $22 billion, representing a $91 million valuation for each of its 243 employees.
Equally as astonishing, the company’s market cap is 714 times as large as its most recent revenue figures, which showed that the company posted $28 million in sales. For reference, Amazon's price-to-sales ratio is currently about 4.6. At this level, Tilray is also nominally more valuable than a large percentage of companies in the S&P 500 index, per Pension Partners, including social media giant Twitter.
Tilray is now worth more than Twitter.
— Charlie Bilello (@charliebilello) September 19, 2018
'More Ridiculous Than Bitcoin'
One theory for Tilray’s parabolic rise is that it managed to execute a short squeeze on short-selling firms including Citron Research, which has been pounding the table on the firm since Aug. 24, when the stock rose 70 percent in a week.
Writing in a report published last week, Citron compared meteoric cannabis stock valuations to the cryptocurrency market boom-and-bust, arguing that this phenomenon is “even more ridiculous than bitcoin."
“These stock prices are equivalent to bitcoin mania – although it is even more ridiculous than bitcoin. Whereas people liked Bitcoin because it was a blue sky, unregulated, difficult to mine, and had no real competition in crypto currency. Cannabis is highly regulated, can be farmed worldwide for cheap, and has many different players involved. Cannabis has more similarities to tomatoes than bitcoin (not saying we would be long either tomatoes or bitcoin).”
Squeeze or no squeeze, though, Citron continues to hold the line on Tilray, stating in a tweet this morning that the stock's move is "beyond comprehension."
As of the time of writing, Tilray shares were trading at $207, down $29 from their intraday (and all-time) high of $236.
Featured Image from Joe Rogan Experience/YouTube