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Sep 11, 2018

Tilray surging like China tech IPOs before they corrected

Tilray ripe for opportunity in M&A, beverages: Cowen and Company

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This summer’s rally in pot stocks is drawing comparisons to another group of companies that recently surged beyond Wall Street’s price targets -- only to plummet back to earth.

A reversal in recent U.S. listings by Chinese technology firms may reveal what lies ahead for stocks like pot purveyor Tilray Inc. (TLRY.O), this year’s best performing IPO to date. Tilray gained as much as 12 per cent on Tuesday, adding to an 8.5 per cent jump on Monday, just days after the stock was downgraded by one of its biggest bulls.

Tilray, as of Monday’s close, traded about 71 per cent above the average 12-month price target awarded by sell-side analysts, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Peers Canopy Growth Corp. and Cronos Group Inc. have also jumped above their average price targets.

The cannabis stocks trading above their price targets, independently of their fundamentals, may suggest they’re poised for a correction, said one trader, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak about the situation. It’s a risk some of the Chinese internet IPOs learned the hard way in recent months.

Tilray’s euphoric rise looks similar to China streaming platform Huya Inc., which has lost almost half of its value since peaking on June 18, when it traded more than 60 per cent above its average price target. Another surging China streaming platform, Iqiyi Inc., lost 39 per cent of its value while falling alongside Huya.

Despite the reversal in these stocks, bankers still forecast a strong appetite for more U.S. IPOs by Chinese firms. Offerings by Nio Inc. and 111 Inc. are both expected to price Tuesday post-market, while Qutoutiao Inc.’s IPO should price Thursday post-market. Companies like these have been turning to U.S. exchanges as stocks listed in China face the worst of a budding trade war.

Short interest in Tilray is near its highest since the IPO, now at 18 per cent of the free float. Huya’s short interest is 17 per cent, according to financial analytics firm S3 Partners.

--With assistance from Richard Richtmyer