Did Aphria Inc. Overpay for Broken Coast Cannabis Inc.?

Aphria Inc. (TSX:APH) and its latest deal to buy Broken Coast Cannabis Inc. has been the talk of the town of late. But is this move really better for shareholders? Or is it just a move to drive the stock in the short term?

The Motley Fool

Here at Fool.ca, there’s no shortage of coverage on Aphria Inc.’s (TSX:APH) latest acquisition of Broken Coast Cannabis Inc. for $230 million. Fellow Fool contributors Chris MacDonald and Will Ashworth have both expressed their opinions on this latest deal, and their viewpoints appear to be on different ends of the spectrum. From a valuation perspective, MacDonald thinks that the deal “makes no sense whatsoever,” and Ashworth seems to think that the deal is a “win/win” for both sides.

With very little visibility behind the deal, it’s nearly impossible to get a grasp of the real value behind the Broken Coast acquisition, but let’s attempt to anyway to determine whether or not the latest deal is a win or loss for Aphria shareholders.

Ashworth justifies the hefty $230 million price tag by drawing comparisons to acquisitions that are common in the tech industry, which I personally don’t think is a reasonable comparison to make because of reasons that MacDonald pointed out in his piece.

Sure, Aphria stands to benefit from the operational expertise of Broken Coast’s “talent,” but at this point, it’s nearly impossible to quantify the value that’s to be had from such a deal without taking a closer look under the hood.

Based on the limited knowledge that’s currently available, MacDonald noted that each employee is valued between $5 and $21 million. While they don’t tell the whole story, these numbers should be ringing alarm bells, since there’s little to no visibility on potential synergies from the deal, and investors are putting all of their trust in the hands of CEO Vic Neufeld.

“Adding one of Canada’s most sought-after premium brands represents a major triumph for Aphria and our shareholders and firmly establishes our position as a Canadian leader in premium indoor cannabis production,” said Neufeld.

A “major triumph” for shareholders… That’s a bold statement, to say the least. However, investors would be wise to take such executive comments with a grain of salt, at least until the numbers can show otherwise.

What’s my view?

I think Aphria severely overpaid for Broken Coast. While I’m sure management did their homework, and the firm is probably the perfect fit given Aphria’s fundamentally sound business model, I’m not at all a fan of the price it’s paying.

With all of Canada’s larger pot firms heading into “acquisition mode” going forward, I think the patience, and not complacency of management teams, will be rewarded in the grander scheme of things.

I believe all cannabis stocks are in bubble territory, and all investments or acquisitions made at these levels are subject to a ridiculously high premium, which I believe will be substantially lowered after the bubble gets popped. Acquisitions at these levels are taking into account the fact that the overly euphoric general public would be more than likely to pay up an absurd multiple for anything cannabis related in the public markets.

We’re in the very early stages of a nascent industry, so there’s no rush to buy everything at highly questionable premiums. Over the next few years, I suspect the cannabis market is almost guaranteed to experience a correction, as it did last year. After the hype fades is when I believe firms should begin consolidating the industry. So, contrary to popular belief, I think M&A inactivity is what investors should be favouring with cannabis valuations continuing to surge above and beyond what’s considered realistic.

When combined with Aphria’s potential delistment from the TSX, I’d avoid Aphria like the plague and opt for any of the three “Big Four” Canadian cannabis producers if you’re keen on getting some skin in the game today. You don’t need an in-depth analysis to see that the big cannabis players are severely overpaying to scoop up smaller firms at what I believe are “bubbly” levels.

Of course, I could be wrong if the industry isn’t actually in a bubble that’s on the verge of bursting. And if that’s the case, props to Aphria on its latest “value” acquisition.

Stay hungry. Stay Foolish.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Fool contributor Joey Frenette has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

More on Investing

Dividend Stocks

Turn a $10,000 Investment Into $844 in Cash Every Year

The power of compound interest from regular investments in quality dividend stocks can deliver solid long-term returns and make you…

Read more »

Dividend Stocks

Grab This 10.8% Dividend Yield Before It’s Gone!

This dividend stock is down 43% in the last year, and it's about to turn around in the near future.…

Read more »

grow dividends
Dividend Stocks

2 TSX Dividend Stocks With Seriously Huge Payouts 

If you are looking for dividend payouts of up to 7-11% of the stock price, now is the time, as…

Read more »

Shopping card with boxes labelled REITs, ETFs, Bonds, Stocks
Dividend Stocks

For $1,000 in Annual Income, Buy 1,163 Shares of This TSX Stock

Fiera Capital is a popular TSX dividend stock as it currently offers a tasty yield of 13.3%. But is the…

Read more »

Early retirement handwritten in a note
Stocks for Beginners

Maximize Your TFSA Potential: 3 Stocks to Buy Today

TFSA investors seeking long-term income would do well to consider these three TSX stocks that could certainly maximize growth potential,…

Read more »

A plant grows from coins.
Dividend Stocks

Old Faithfuls: Canadian Stocks Whose Dividend Payments Rise Each Year

Income investors should feel safe and secure owning three dividend aristocrats, also known as the old faithful trio.

Read more »

dividends grow over time
Stocks for Beginners

Dollarama: This Safe TSX Stock Has Rallied in 9 Out of the Last 10 Years

These key factors make Dollarama one of the safest Canadian stocks to bet on for the long term.

Read more »

Retirement plan
Dividend Stocks

Boost Your CPP Pension With This Simple Hack

The CPP takeout decision is never easy, although one simple hack can significantly increase the pension payment.

Read more »