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Aug 30, 2018

Cronos CEO 'confident' about company's disclosures amid Citron report

Marijuana plants.

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Cronos Group Inc. (CRON.TO) chief executive Mike Gorenstein said he is “very confident” in the Toronto-based cannabis producer’s disclosures after a short seller released a report alleging that it was “deceiving” investors.

U.S.-based Citron Research published a report Thursday that advised investors to exercise caution in the growing Canadian cannabis space, highlighting Cronos with a price target of just $3.50 a share. The report sent Cronos shares down nearly 27 per cent on the Toronto Stock Exchange, triggering a stock circuit breaker and briefly halted trading in the company’s shares.

When shares resumed trading, Cronos fell as much as 29 per cent before paring earlier losses. Despite the dramatic drop, the shares are still higher than they were just a week earlier.

In the report by Citron managing editor Andrew Left, he claims, “Cronos management appears to have been deceiving the investing public by purposely not disclosing the size of its distribution agreements with provinces – unlike every other major cannabis player. Our sources have informed us that it’s because the agreements are so small they could never justify the premium investors are paying for the stock.”

In a phone interview with BNN Bloomberg shortly after the company’s stock was halted, Gorenstein declined to comment on Citron’s report, but said he’s “very confident” in what Cronos has disclosed to the market.

“I’m not able to comment on short seller reports at this time, but I can assure that all of our public offerings have been fully underwritten and we’ve had top legal advisors review our disclosure,” Gorenstein said. “We are very confident in our disclosure to the market.”

The sources cited by Left were unnamed in the report.

Left is best known for a short-selling call on Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. in 2015 that highlighted the company’s alleged accounting misconduct. He recently targeted Canadian ecommerce giant Shopify Inc., calling the company’s growth “unsustainable.”

“[Cronos is] not as transparent as other companies in the space,” Left said in a phone interview with BNN Bloomberg. “They’re valuation is out of whack compared to the other companies in the space … The stock is right now too expensive. I believe that management is way too promotional.”

Earlier this month, Cronos announced a deal with Cura Cannabis Solutions, a Portland, Ore.-based company that makes marijuana oil for vape cartridges, to provide the firm with 20,000 kilograms of cannabis annually for a five-year period. 

Cronos has signed initial binding supply agreements with Ontario and B.C. ahead of the legalization of recreational marijuana this October, according to an August press release. It also secured listings and accepted supplier terms with Nova Scotia and PEI. However, the release did not specify how much cannabis it will provide to each province.