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Unilever deal is good for Neptune Wellness, says Echelon

Neptune Wellness

Neptune WellnessThere’s likely more upside to come from Neptune Wellness Solutions (Neptune Wellness Solutions Stock Quote, Chart, News TSX:NEPT) after a new deal with Unilever but Echelon Capital analyst Douglas Loe is sticking with his current take on the name for the time being.

In an update to clients Thursday, Loe reiterated his “Buy” rating and $5.00 target, which at press time represented a projected 12-month return of 50.2 per cent.

Neptune Wellness is a Quebec-based nutritional supplement manufacturer and services firm with medical cannabis oil production and a 2.6-million equity stake in biopharm company Acasti Pharma.

The company announced on Twitter on August 27 a new distribution alliance for its ethanol-based hand sanitizer and face masks with global CPG giant Unilever.

“We have executed an agreement with Unilever as an Import and Stocking US & Canadian Master Distributor and Logistics Partner. ​We will expand their portfolio of products to include Suave, Lifebuoy and Dove products, hand sanitizing wash, wipes & gels and face masks,” the company said.

“We are excited to team up with Unilever’s selling partners to provide them with the availability of products in our vast warehouse system in the US & Canada, and look forward to enabling and sustaining the growth of the hygiene category for their commercial distributors,” the company added.

No economic details were provided with the announcement but Loe is already calling the deal a positive to his investment thesis on NEPT, saying, “We are not surprised that Neptune has augmented its partnership portfolio to include Unilever, since the firm was the acquirer (in 2017) of legacy consumer products marketer Schmidt’s Naturals, which achieved its success under the stewardship of Neptune CEO Michael Cammarata,” Loe wrote in his report.

Neptune’s portfolio includes IFF/Dupont and, in cannabis and hemp oil, Swiss specialty chemical manufacturing and formulation giant Lonza along with Canadian LPs Canopy Growth, Tilray and The Green Organic Dutchman.

Loe said hand sanitizer sales are already a seminal component to Neptune’s revenue (at an estimated $13 to $14 million of the company’s first quarter fiscal 2021 top line of $21.4 million), but the company could get a big boost in upcoming quarters with the Unilever deal.

“Assuming that IFF/Dupont contributed positively to FQ121 hand sanitizer distribution and is equally relevant to ongoing FQ221 sales activity, we see no reason why Unilever’s global channel strength cannot be correspondingly relevant to achievable revenue in FH221 and thereafter,” Loe wrote.

For now, Loe is putting no partnership-specific product sales projections and is maintaining his forecast, which calls for fiscal 2021 (FYE March 31) consolidated revenue and adjusted EBITDA of $126.0 million and $0.3 million, respectively, and for fiscal 2022 revenue and EBITDA of $189.7 million and $43.0 million, respectively.

Last week, Neptune announced the launch this fall of its Mood Ring brand of cannabis products to the Canadian market. The lineup features CBD products targeted at the wellness and natural products space and THC concentrates for the recreational market.

The products will use Neptune’s proprietary cold ethanol extraction process technology to create full spectrum extracts for tinctures, capsules and concentrates.

Editors Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported consolidated revenue and adjusted EBITDA of $50.0 million and $0.3 million, respectively, and for fiscal 2022 revenue and EBITDA of $96.2 million and $43.0 million, respectively. The updated numbers are now in the revised article.

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About The Author /

Jayson is a writer, researcher and educator with a PhD in political philosophy from the University of Ottawa. His interests range from bioethics and innovations in the health sciences to governance, social justice and the history of ideas.
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