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A Trio of Indirect Cannabis Plays

03/27/2019 5:00 am EST

Focus: CANNABIS

Hilary Kramer

Editor, GameChanger Stocks

Legal cannabis is becoming a mature industry as next-generation growers and processors have begun to create value-added and differentiated products, suggests Hilary Kramer, growth stock expert and editor of GameChangers.

In the meantime, I encourage investors to handle the big cannabis growers like they would a slot machine: Get lucky in the cycle and hit the jackpot or else go bust.

Companies which have incorporated a sliver of the plant into an existing business plan are a lot more stable. For them, cannabis is not an all-or-nothing bet. Instead, it is a little extra sizzle. While these are not “cannabis stocks” properly speaking, these companies use cannabis as a catalyst that will take them (and shareholders) to the next level by making their business more vibrant and keeping them relevant.

Think of the global beer and tobacco companies, who are always eager to add the hot new legal flavor to their product lines. Think of Big Pharma, which is hoping to use cannabis derivatives as the basis for curing epilepsy and other diseases of the central nervous system.

PerkinElmer (PKI) is a great example of an established company, founded in 1937, tentatively embracing a slice of the cannabis boom.

It wants the SEC to know that its food testing systems can also analyze cannabis, keeping heavily regulated companies on top of their compliance obligations. Is that a small nudge? Yes. But this can become a vibrant new market (easily $1 billion a year worldwide) for this otherwise mature business to capture. Color me intrigued.

James River Group Holdings Ltd. (JRVR) hid a reference to “various types of businesses engaged in the medical and adult-use cannabis industry” in its latest quarterly report.

Without my proprietary screens, you would’ve literally blinked and missed it. But with so many cannabis players in dire need of insurance coverage, this is a blue-sky opportunity. The James River underwriters treat this as any other life science business, such as nutraceuticals or vaccines. They know the risk factors and how to price them.

Intec Pharma Ltd. (NTEC) is one of those life science companies. We’ve known for some time that it is eager to develop non-addictive cannabis-derived painkillers. Now, we know that the pills that Intec has developed can successfully deliver the right molecules in a controlled release format. An oral spray, on the other hand, needs a little more work.

Will either application method make it to the Food and Drug Administration approval stage? We’ll just have to see, but with the stock starting to move wild, it’s clear Wall Street is already catching on.

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