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3 Burning Questions Keeping Tilray Investors Up at Night

Speaking from (former) experience, it can be a bit harrowing to be an investor in Tilray Brands (NASDAQ: TLRY). Between the Canadian cannabis conglomerate’s penchant for acquisitions and major diversification initiatives and its ongoing struggle to remain profitable, the stock’s decline of more than 91.8% in the last three years is likely to be looming large in the market’s perceptions of its future performance.

Its shareholders are likely to be particularly concerned about three high-impact topics in particular: alcohol sales, average selling prices, and inventory. Let’s take a look at three of the (somewhat uncomfortable) questions investors have so that you’ll know what to look for when the company reports its earnings on July 28.

1. How are alcohol sales faring amid inflation?

Via its Sweetwater Brewing and Breckenridge Distillery subsidiaries, Tilray sells alcohol across the U.S. The segment was worth nearly $19.6 million, or 13% of the company’s total revenue, in its fiscal Q3, which is the most recent quarter. What’s more, sales of its alcoholic beverages grew by 64% year-over-year, massively outshining the 32% year-over-year increase in its cannabis revenue. But investors know that such rapid expansion is now facing a serious headwind that wasn’t as evident earlier in the year: inflation

With inflation rising and squeezing consumer budgets in the U.S. as well as in Canada, it’s possible that the business’s roaring ethanol-fueled growth engine might start to sputter. If inflation also makes people buy less cannabis, it’ll be a double whammy that there won’t be much to do about it for a good while. And if growth expectations get slashed for the company’s fiscal 2023 as a result of this strong economic headwind, it’ll doubtlessly smash its share price even further.

2. Is its average selling price per gram of cannabis still falling?

Savvy cannabis investors know that companies that sell each gram of cannabis they produce at a high price are likely to have wider and more durable margins than those that sell at lower prices. Higher-priced products are typically those like vaporizers and distillates, whereas lower prices are commanded by goods with less value added, like dried cannabis flower. And last quarter, Tilray said that its average selling price per gram of cannabis had fallen as a result of competition in the Canadian recreational cannabis market, though it declined to give an exact figure describing how much.

That’s a significant issue, as it means the business will need to sell more marijuana to bring in the same amount of revenue. It also means that consumers might prefer the least profitable products that it sells, which is a potential problem because Tilray is only thinly profitable. The other reason why falling selling prices are problematic is that lower-priced cannabis products tend to have less room for differentiation from competitors. After all, there’s only so much you can do to add branding and character to a packet of dried cannabis flower in comparison to more complex products, where there are more abundant opportunities to provide value for customers. 

If management makes another remark about falling average selling prices, it could be a sign that something needs to change with its product mix. On the other hand, if average selling prices rise again, it’s a green flag for margins to keep expanding as its collection of brands grows in value and differentiation. 

3. Is old inventory piling up?

One challenge that Tilray faces as a result of its product mix is that low-value inventory can pile up and take up space without turning over. Especially if demand is slacker than expected, the excess product can clog up operations by taking up shelf space and warehouse space. Two ways to deal with the issue are to wholesale the low-value inventory at a loss, which the company has done before, or write down its fair market value and mark down prices to try to stimulate demand, which it has also done before. The fly in the ointment is that after such write downs and negative-margin sales, the bottom line ends up taking a hit, and the stock price often follows downward. 

Last quarter dried cannabis flower comprised around 46% of the inventory that it had on hand. It remains to be seen whether management considers any portion of that inventory to be worthy of liquidation or write down moving forward, but investors will know as soon as Tilray reports its earnings on Thursday. Given its past actions, shareholders are liable to be biting their nails.

Alex Carchidi has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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