Having right-sized the ship, 4Front Ventures (4Front Ventures Stock Quote, Chart, News CSE:FFNT) is primed for a strong H2 2020, according to Beacon Securities analyst Doug Cooper, who reviewed the cannabis company’s latest quarterly results in an update to clients on Tuesday.
Arizona-based 4Front is a US multi-state operator and retailer with over 25 cannabis brands and operations in Illinois, Massachusetts, California, Michigan and Washington state. The company released on Monday its fourth quarter 2019 financials along with preliminary results for the first quarter 2020.
The Q4 saw sales of $17.5 million and marked the third consecutive quarter of growth (from $14 million in the Q2 and $16.9 million in the Q3), while EBITDA for the fourth quarter was $5.8 million. The Q4 results included a non-cash goodwill impairment charge of $146.3 million related to the timing of the close of the Cannex transaction which was affected by higher industry stock prices at the date of the merger, according to the company. (All figures in US dollars except where noted otherwise.)
As for 4Front’s business, management reported robust consumer demand across all its operating markets despite the COVID-19 pandemic, with all states in which the company has business having declared cannabis operations as “essential businesses.” As well, 4Front said its expansion plans are underway in Massachusetts and Illinois and that business remains on pace to be cash flow positive in the second half of 2020.
“Entering 2020, we have been laser-focused on leaning out and replicating our low-cost cultivation and production model in targeted states,” said Leo Gontmakher, CEO, in a press release. “The work our team has done over the past six months to focus our business model, streamline our cost structure and fortify our balance sheet has set the stage for us to accelerate growth across our core markets.”
In his update, Cooper wrote that more significant than the Q4 results were the preliminary Q1 numbers, which are indicated to be $23.8 million in sales, up 36 per cent sequentially and driven primarily by the start of rec sales in Illinois (as of January 1).
“Aside from the continued system sales growth and narrowing EBITDA loss, which is clearly positive, the last few quarters have been about the restructuring of the organization, which we highlighted in our May 27, 2020 note, ‘Major Restructuring Dramatically Improves Outlook.’ Such restructuring streamlines its operations in terms of geographic focus and headcount and dramatically improves its balance sheet. All of these should help the company become cash flow positive in 2H20 and provide significant operating leverage as it heads into FY21,” Cooper said.
Cooper called 4Front’s balance sheet much improved, with potential for further non-dilutive and accretive improvements, and pointed out that the company’s near-term capex projects in Massachusetts and Illinois are fully funded.
As well, the analyst said that Washington, Massachusetts, Illinois and California are all markets that offer excellent opportunities for growth, with likely strong pricing for the next few years especially in IL and MA, given the demand/supply imbalance.
With the update, Cooper has maintained his “Buy” rating and C$2.00 target, which at press time represented a projected return of 245 per cent.
Looking ahead, Cooper thinks 4Front with generate fiscal 2020 system sales and adjusted EBITDA of $101.5 million and $9.8 million, respectively, and fiscal 2021 system sales and adjusted EBITDA of $180.5 million and $50.1 million, respectively.