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Cannabis Watch: Analysts mixed on complex Canopy Growth maneuver to create Canopy USA business

Stifel analyst W. Andrew Carter reiterated a sell rating on Canopy Growth Inc. on Wednesday as he threw shade on the company’s proposal to create Canopy USA to hold its U.S. businesses. Jefferies analyst Owen Bennett and Bill Kirk of MKM Partners, meanwhile, praised the deal.

Another view, from Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Pablo Zuanic, on Canopy Growth’s
CGC,
+6.36%

WEED,
+7.32%

move to set up Canopy USA through the issuance of nonvoting exchangeable shares ponders the motivations of Constellation Brands Inc.
STZ,
-0.46%
,
Canopy Growth’s largest shareholder.

For the most part, investors continued to take the development as a positive, with Canopy Growth posting a second straight day of double-digit gains. The stock was up 12.5% on Wednesday afternoon.

Jefferies analyst Owen Bennett said the Canopy Growth deal opens up the possibility for more cannabis companies to follow suit.

“We see no reason why multi-state operators would not be allowed to do similar [things],” said Bennett, who reiterated a hold rating on the stock. “Any additional capital raised by the U.S. multi-state operator parent from greater access to institutions as a result, could then be loaned to the U.S. holding company as debt.”

Also read: Green Thumb Industries to sell cannabis at Circle K gas stations in first-of-its-kind deal

Overall, Bennett said, the Canopy USA deal will benefit the company because it triggers ownership of its U.S. assets and consolidates earnings from those units into Canopy Growth’s financial numbers.

Stifel’s Carter, who is more bearish on the transaction, said the addition of cannabis company Acreage Holdings Inc.
ACRDF,
+5.88%

to Canopy USA as part of the deal could actually weaken Canopy Growth with an additional C$230 million ($169.5 million) of debt from Acreage.

“Overall, we take a negative view noting the deal does not alleviate Canopy’s risks which are enhanced given Acreage’s financial position,” Carter said.

Related: Cannabis legalization goes up for a vote Nov. 8 in five states with a combined adult population of 13 million

MKM Partners analyst Kirk reiterated a buy rating on Canopy Growth and echoed comments by Jefferies analyst Bennett about positive ripple effects in the industry.

“This restructuring will be widely studied by potential strategics who may want cannabis exposure ahead of federal legislative changes,” Kirk said. He also cited a comment by Curaleaf Holdings Inc.
CURLF,
-2.83%

chairman Boris Jordan, who said the Canopy Growth deal opens up the U.S. for strategic investments.

Cantor Fitzgerald’s Zuanic said the firm was “intrigued” by Constellation Brands’ decision to convert all of its shares of Canopy Growth into exchangeable shares in Canopy USA and vacate its seats on the Canopy Growth board.

“In our judgment, Constellation’s various moves make sense only if it plans to eventually divest the stake in Canopy Growth or plan a full buyout,” Zuanic said.

He reiterated a neutral rating on the stock and increased his price target to $3.05 a share from $2.90 a share.

While Canopy Growth moved up on Wednesday, cannabis stocks overall traded mixed, with the ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF
MJ,
+0.29%

up 0.3% but the AdvisorShares Pure U.S. Cannabis ETF
MSOS,
-2.14%

down by 1.4%.

Also read: With highly concentrated cannabinoids, BioHarvest takes aim at medical and dietary-supplement markets

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