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Dec 1, 2016

'Don’t do it': Marijuana stocks 'very risky' for investors, money manager says

Flowering marijuana plants at Canopy Growth's Tweed facility in Smiths Falls, Ont.

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Canopy Growth Corp., Canada’s largest publicly-traded marijuana company, announced Thursday it will acquire rival pot producer Mettrum Health Corp. in a $430-million stock deal – but the news isn’t enough to sway one Toronto-based money manager, who says investing in the marijuana sector is “very risky.”

“These are not the types of investments that I would make for my clients,” Barry Schwartz, chief investment officer at Baskin Wealth Management, said on BNN Thursday. “These are not profitable companies. They don’t pay dividends. I don’t know if this is a moat business – I think anybody can grow marijuana.”

In its earnings report last month, Canopy (CGC.TO) said second-quarter revenue rose to $8.5 million -- a 245 per cent increase over the same period last year. Around the same time, a number of Canadian marijuana stocks experienced wild swings and were later halted after the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president and anticipation for the Liberal government’s legalization of recreational marijuana.

The country’s publicly-traded marijuana companies that saw spikes in trading included Canopy, Aurora Cannabis Inc. (ACB.V), Mettrum (MT.V), Aphria Inc. (APH.V), OrganiGram Holdings Inc. (OGI.V), and Supreme Pharmaceuticals Inc. (SL.CD).

While remaining opposed to the idea of investing in pot stocks, Schwartz acknowledged that marijuana companies could have some advantages if they are licensed and are working with the government.

“But at the end of the day, it’s very risky in our opinion. It’s not the type of investment we’d ever make,” he added, saying “don’t do it” when asked what he would tell investors determined to buy into the sector.

“Everybody and their brother is going public as a marijuana company,” Schwartz said. “We are going to see a lot of IPOs in the next few years. There’s going to be tons of competition – not everyone is going to survive.”