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Ascend Wellness stock is trading at a discount, says Beacon

The stock has fallen hard over the past year, but Beacon Securities analyst Russell Stanley sees a lot of lift in Ascend Wellness (Ascend Wellness Stock Quote, Charts, News, Analysts, Financials CSE:AAWH.U) over the next 12 months. Ahead of third quarter earnings from Ascend, Stanley delivered an update to clients on Tuesday where he reiterated a “Buy” rating on the stock and C$8.75 target price.

Set to report its Q3 on Thursday, Ascend Wellness is a vertically-integrated multi-state operator in the US, with operations and interests in Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio, as well as a pending acquisition in New York. The company offers the Ozone and Simply Herb brands and it announced last month its first medical dispensary in Pennsylvania, a dispensary in Scranton.

On the upcoming third quarter numbers, Stanley is expecting revenue and adjusted EBITDA of $111 million and $26 million, respectively, compared to the previous quarter where Ascend delivered Q2 revenue and EBITDA of $97 million and $21 million, respectively. The consensus call for the Q3 is at $105 million and $24 million, respectively. (All figures in US dollars except where noted otherwise.)

Stanley commented on Ascend’s business in Illinois, which as a state showed total sales in October of $160 million, up one per cent from September. The analyst said the state recently issued 185 new adult-use retail licenses, which potentially represents 168 per cent growth on current levels and makes for a good opportunity for Ascend.

WELL Health

“Ascend is both a major retailer and wholesaler in IL, and while it is not the largest in absolute terms, we believe its revenue leverage to IL is the strongest amongst the MSOs, making it well positioned to benefit from expected growth in the addressable wholesale market,” Stanley wrote.

On the Scranton opening, Stanley said it’s the first of six dispensaries the company is allowed under its current clinical registrant license, which it acquired in April for $100 million.

On the upcoming Q3 conference call, Stanley said he’ll be looking for further news on Ascend’s New Jersey operations as well as updates on the company’s search for a new CEO.

“Ascend trades at 3.5x our F2023 adjusted EBITDA forecast. This represents a 47 per cent discount to the 6.7x average amongst CSE-listed US operators,” Stanley wrote. “Potential company-specific catalysts include the Q3 results/commentary Thursday, further buildout updates (including the opening of the Fort Lee location for adult-use), and M&A activity.”

At press time, Beacon’s C$8.75 target represented a projected one-year return of 335 per cent.

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