Cultivation Archives - Green Market Report

Debra BorchardtMay 23, 2022
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24min7910

Editors note: This interview has been edited.

Green Market Report Executive Editor Debra Borchardt: 

When we look at what’s happening in the hydroponics market, it’s really not just a Hawthorne issue, it’s across the board. All these companies were saying things had slowed down, but that the market was going to get better at the end of the year. We weren’t getting a whole lot of color on what was happening. Is it that certain states were slow to get going? Is it that there was just truly oversupply? There are so many reasons why this slowdown could have happened. What’s happening here?

Chris Hagedorn, Division President of Hawthorne Hydroponics (NYSE: SMG)

It’s not any one specific discrete issue. I think it’s a combination of, and just some really poor timing. So if you look back at the history of cannabis and wholesale cannabis pricing, to the extent that we have a sort of a dependable history on that data, which obviously I think you know is relatively hard to come by in this industry, certainly compared to more normal mainstream and kind of, historically tracked industries

If you look back at the wholesale data, there is kind of a cyclical nature where the wholesale price will get kind of overcooked and that’ll sort of compell a bunch of people to start growing or increase in their capacity that in turn will drive, then you’ll start to see capacity or supply begin to outstrip demand. And then you end up in a trough-like we’re in. So we’re seeing that. hat’s nothing new to the industry.  That’s happened every four or five years, as far as we can tell kind of as far back as we can track it.

If you look back over a 10-year period or so, you see it again. It happens in this kind of wave pattern, which is again, not unusual. I think what’s amplified a bit this year is again, it’s a few things. Part of it is oversupply and that’s at the national level. Also, I think we were tracking growth in Oklahoma over the past few years that was triple or quadruple-digit in our business. 

We’re seeing our business in Oklahoma grow by a thousand percent quarter over quarter. Obviously, that’s not growth that’s sustainable. I think one of the things that we didn’t count on, because we thought the disruption that this industry saw back in 2018, which was largely in our estimation driven by California’s move from prop 215 to prop 64. We sort of told ourselves, that California is by far, the biggest candidate market. Our biggest market at the time as it was over 50% of our business.

What we did not count on was the shift towards Oklahoma, not only for the legal but for illicit growers as well. That was something that we didn’t fully understand. I think it boils down to a few different things. There was the permissibility of the regulatory market there, which is similar to what we saw in places like Oregon and Washington back in 2018, just a really low barrier to entry, so a lot of growers flowing into the state and setting up their operations. What we really didn’t understand and it’s one of those things, like a lot of things that seems kind of intuitively obvious in hindsight, but at the front end was just something we missed, was the scale of the grows in Oklahoma.

I’m talking large outdoor grows in Oklahoma that covers five or 10 acres, whereas illicit grows in California on a hillside up in Humboldt, it’s an acre or two at most. So these grows in Oklahoma, just the scale of them is kind of in the orders of magnitudes larger. So the amount of cannabis that was flowing into the marketplace was causing wholesale prices to trend in a negative direction. Probably about this time last year we started to say, okay, we’re seeing potential storm clouds on the horizon and sure enough kind of those bore out. 

Green Market Report:

So you think that this illicit cannabis was going to all the other markets?

Chris Hagedorn, Hawthorne:

Yeah. I think a ton of that product, whether it was initially grown for the legal market and was diverted, or it was grown from inception for the illicit market, I am firmly a believer that that product has flowed outing nationally and it has crushed the wholesale pricing.

Green Market Report:

We knew a lot of the Oregon illicit product was in New York. That was pretty easy to ask people and was, well anecdotally documented, because that’s the only way you can track any of this is, anecdotally asking people.

Chris Hagedorn, Hawthorne:

T your point, we have the same experience that when one considered hard concrete data is, as I said, hard to come by here, the anecdotal information that we’ve gathered says, “Yeah, the Oklahoma market has been a big source of this.” They’re not alone. California, certainly there were some large newer, large outdoor grows there. California had and we’ve talked about this. I think we’ve talked about it publicly, but if not it’s nothing secret.

Green Market Report:

Well in Oregon, everybody knew Oregon was way oversupplied and they just were selling for pennies on the dollar to just unload product.

Chris Hagedorn, Hawthorne:

Exactly, trying to move product.  I think there are other things that have amplified the downturn. So there’s this flood of material. When you look at a state like Michigan, which is our second biggest market for Hawthorne by a pretty good margin. The legislature up there was considering changing the caregiver laws pretty dramatically and I think moving the plant count from like 75 down to like 20 or 25, I don’t have the exact numbers. Now that did not end up taking place. But again, the information that we’ve gathered says there was so much momentum and that it still could happen, but there was so much momentum and noise in the state about putting severe restrictions on the caregiver market there, that a lot of folks just pulled back on investments thinking we’re not going to build new cultivation capacity. We’re just going to kind of slow things until we understand how the market for the caregivers is going to shake out in Michigan. That put a damper on investment, which obviously flows back to us for all the infrastructure items we sell, like lights and dehumidifiers and everything.

Then on top of that, there’s obviously the macro overlay of the federal government that just cannot get off its ass and actually move this issue forward. I think everyone expected with the Democrats controlling kind of all three levels between the White House, Senate, and Congress, that they would seize the opportunity to move this thing forward. They haven’t done it, which is extremely frustrating.

For investors, I think it said, “Look, they’re going to lose at least one side of the house, if not both at the midterms.” We shouldn’t have any faith that the Republicans are going to take this, though honestly, as a sort of disillusioned independent, I don’t understand why either party doesn’t just seize this as a political silver bullet, but they haven’t. So I think at the macro level for kind of institutional level investors, there’s just, there’s no enthusiasm right now because the federal government’s not doing anything to help. 

Green Market Report:

Do you think that as New York progresses in its program decision making, there might be opportunities there because I know not so much New Jersey, but definitely New York, they’re trying to really tap into the small grower market. They have these micro licenses that they’re offering, which is kind of appealing to a lot of the smaller people that don’t have big money, like some of these MSOs, some of the legacy people, or do you think that’s just not going to ever really develop into any kind of sizable market?

Chris Hagedorn, Hawthorne:

I do. I think you’re going to see some large-scale cultivators obviously sort of taking a claim for themselves and hopefully doing it right. It’s one of the issues that I’ve had with a lot of kind of large scale. I say this at the risk of upsetting our customers, the large-scale kind of corporate style, MSOs that have not placed an emphasis on quality. So I hope that people kind of learn that lesson and put more of an emphasis on that because I just think it’s better for consumers, and ultimately I think it’ll be better for the businesses and the brands they’re trying to create. As far as the craft scale growers being given an opportunity, I think New York is creating those opportunities not only just for small growers, but specifically for social equity style growers and retailers.

Chris Hagedorn, Hawthorne:

Vermont is another state focused on the small grower. Their mindset is very much supporting smaller craft growers and I think it’s a really great concept they have. Look at a state like Vermont, which is, it’s one of, if not the least populated state, but it punches way above its weight in certain industries, like beer and cheese. Vermont’s got nationally known and kind of beloved and respected beer and cheese brands that you may not be able to buy anywhere outside of Vermont. If you can, it’s only within kind of a few states radius, but they still are kind of nationally renowned. There is an opportunity by clearing a way for smaller, higher-end craft growers to establish that same reputation for cannabis.

I think Massachusetts has actually done a fairly good job. It’s not small growers, but they’ve got some really, really excellent kind of larger-scale in-state operators. So I think there are some states in the Northeast that are doing things right, but it’s such early days.

Green Market Report:

So looking ahead, what do you feel is behind this end-of-year recovery that is being predicted by Hawthorne, and by the other companies that are all kind of saying the same thing?

Chris Hagedorn, Hawthorne:

It’s based on a few things and I hope I continue to tell myself it’s not just based on a sort of desperation, that I need to be true. It’s based on logic and research that, the oversupply because people shut those grows off, that oversupply is only the last so long. We use the beer, the wine analogies a lot. They’re always good in this case. It’s a perishable product and eventually, those kind of backlogs are going to either have to be destroyed. They’ll be sold through, they’ll be converted into concentrates and sold through and eventually, people are going to have to turn their farms on.

So we’re looking at that. We look at just sort of seasonal upticks that we’ve seen on our business historically. You can look at the SMG results to understand even that has been slowed down just by the climate. The weather has just not turned in the way that has implications for our outdoor and even to an extent our greenhouse customers as well. So it’s looking at the oversupply, it’s continuing to talk to retailers, talk to cultivators and just try to keep to the extent that there is a pulse on this industry, kind of one pulse that can tell us how things are. We try to keep our finger on it.

I think we’ve got as much information as anybody in space. The reality is, and this is something I know certainly our analysts and our investors don’t want here. But the reality is that real hard data in this industry is hard to come by. A lot of it’s you mash together anecdote and inference and sort of educated guesses and that’s kind of what we have to operate off of. It’s uncomfortable to operate at this scale and with this much at stake, but that’s kind of where we’re at.

Green Market Report:

As far as actual technology in indoor growing, what would you say is really the next big thing? I’ve heard stuff around like timing, the lights and the grows so that they replicate natural sunrise, sunset things like that. I don’t know if that’s just goofy stuff or is that a thing or really what do you see looking ahead is going to be the next big thing or the hottest?

Chris Hagedorn, Hawthorne:

Yeah, I think we’re going to in continue to see sort of a mass migration away from older style lighting, older kind of high-pressure sodium and ceramic metal lighting to LED. The progression toward LEDs are going to continue and we’ve got a bunch of new LED products in our pipeline that continues to kind of refine and iterate on the technology that we’ve launched. So LEDs are going to continue to be a monster and kind of take over the industry and the stuff that you’re talking about, whether it’s lights that turn on and off and sort of dim themselves on and off. You read about those in Brookstone, those alarm clocks that sort of wake you up, like the sun, plants are not dissimilar in that they like to be woken up kind of gradually as well. So lights that have sunrise, and sunset. 

Now we’re also looking at the spectrum that the sun’s thrown off at sunrise when the sun comes up is very different than the spectrum when the sun’s setting or at noon. So lights that where the spectrum shifts throughout the day to mimic what the plants are used to over the course of millions of years of grown in nature. So we’re looking at all those things. I would say at a larger scale, what I’m really excited about and it doesn’t exist in a way that I think it needs to, is just full facility kind of control and sensor packages that really knit things together. I think it’s something without tooting our own horn here too much that we’re kind of uniquely able to provide just because we take such a broad cut at the industry between lights and dehumidification and HVAC and nutrients and everything kind of, we look at the whole picture.

Once you can begin to introduce AI, machine learning to really kind of use data at scale, and there’s a few companies that are starting to do it, but again, they’re doing it in one specific kind of segment of the industry. There’s no one who’s got the breadth to do it all. I think except for us and it’s on us to actually pull that technology together and we’re working on it, but it’s a big undertaking and for us it’s our roots are in bags of dirt and seed and plants.

This is our most ambitious one yet, but I think it’s where the most opportunity is because this is when you start to say, “Hey, we could maybe pull 30, 40% of the energy costs out of these facilities between all the different technologies.” 

Green Market Report:

Do you think that has a lot to do with the fact that you guys have invested a ton into R and D like that’s to your point, some of these smaller companies they’re selling the lights, they’re selling the software package they’re selling, oh, we’ve got these lights that work with these tables. But I haven’t really come across that many companies that have taken some of that money that they’ve made and then turned around and put it into R and D to learn.

Chris Hagedorn, Hawthorne:

We have invested heavily in it. That’s part of the corporate DNA and something I’m really proud of our parent company. And when I say our parent company, it has kind of multiple meanings for me because it’s my grandfather and my old man who really drove that business and continued to, that’s a company that’s always invested pretty heavily in R and D. So getting to grow up both sort of from a literal perspective and in a professional sense around a business, that placed a really high premium, the ability to innovate and understand our products and the plants that our products are used on and what our consumers are looking for. That was always kind of in our DNA.

Which I’m super grateful for and we’ve taken the time. Whether it’s the investment up in British Columbia to build out a cannabis-specific facility or to convert former Scott’s Miracle-Gro kind of turf grass research centers in Oregon to growing hemp so that we can understand because, hemp as a proxy crop for cannabis is about as good as it gets short of optimal cannabis, which we to do in Canada. So yeah, we take it seriously and we’ve been able to draft off the fact that SMG before Hawthorne even existed already had a really deep and experienced R and D capability and team. So we were able to build out our own capabilities for the stuff that’s unique to Hawthorne, that technological stuff that Scott’s never did. Then for all of our nutrients and growing medias, we can depend on the capability that already existed at Scott’s.


StaffMay 20, 2022
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3min8230

The New York Cannabis Control Board announced on Thursday that an additional 58 farmers for adult-use cannabis have been approved. This brings the total of approved farmers to 146. The NYCCB initially approved 52 farmers in April and then gave the green light to another 36 at the May 5 meeting. People hoping to get these licenses were able to begin applying on March 15 and the opportunity will end on June 30. The NYCCB says it has gotten over 200 applications and the 50 remain to be processed and reviewed.

The board continues to suggest that adult-use stores could be opened as soon as the end of the year, but many believe that goal is too ambitious and the reality is that stores will actually open in 2023. Many regulations have yet to even be written and illegal operations are flourishing within the city. There are numerous pop-up shops and mobile cannabis operations that seem to operate with impunity. Technically, these operations are illegal because without the rules having been written, there is no law to actually enforce.

Social Equity Fund

In addition to approving farmers, the latest NYCCB meeting addressed the social equity fund called the Seeding Opportunity Initiative. While many originally thought this fund would be in grant form, it is really just a loan program. The $200 million fund was approved by the state Legislature and is being administered in partnership with the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, a public benefit corporation that helps build out not-for-profit entities in the state. The Dormitory Authority told the board it is looking for an investment manager to oversee the Initiative as well as a person to take on oversight of the dispensary building.

CCB member Reuben McDaniel III said, “We will be building a significant number of these facilities over a 12-month period of time. So our goal is to get between eight and 10 design-build firms throughout the state of New York.” He noted that responses for the fund manager role are due on June 8, and for the design-build roles on June 13.

Information Sessions

The group also noted that it continues to provide educational sessions. On May 24, there is one titled “How to support cannabis cultivation in NYS” and another on May 25 titled “How to ensure equity in the NYS cannabis economy?”

 


StaffMay 17, 2022
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2min4530

Women’s Leadership Award

Cultivation

Joyce Cenali

COO Sonoma Hills Farm

 

Joyce Cenali is COO of Sonoma Hills Farm, a premium craft cannabis farm and organic culinary garden nestled on 60-acres in Sonoma Valley. In addition to Sun+Earth certification, the farm’s cannabis was one of the first to be recognized as “organic comparable,” as designated by CCOF’s OCal program, which certifies consistency with the uniform standards of the National Organic Program. The farm bridges Sonoma county’s rich agricultural history with a farm-to-table cannabis lifestyle.

Joyce has worked day in and day out to assist other entrepreneurs, many of which are minorities, in cannabis. She is an advisor for various female founders of early-stage companies that are innovating in cannabis with a mission to advance a modern regulatory model that unites capitalism with inclusion A long time craft cannabis cultivator, she co-founded an Emerald Cup winning operation and began angel investing in various women-founded early-stage cannabis start-ups including Sava. She is a board advisor with Access & Innovation whose mission is to advance a modern regulatory model that unites capitalism with inclusion, and former co-chair for the Sonoma County chapter of Women Grow, which serves as a catalyst for women to influence and succeed in the cannabis industry as the end of marijuana prohibition occurs on a national scale. 

She’s an avid supporter and investor in LADY BUDS, an indie film that features women in cannabis. She also leads operations at Big Rock Partners, a strategic advisory firm serving investors and companies at the intersection of food, hospitality, and cannabis.


StaffMay 10, 2022
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3min4840

Urban-gro, Inc. (Nasdaq: UGRO) reported first-quarter financial results with revenue rising to $21.1 million versus $12.0 million in the prior-year period, representing an increase of $9.1 million, or 76%. This beat the Yahoo Finance average analyst estimate for revenue of $19 million.  Urban-gro attributed the growth to an increase in the specification, procurement, and integration of cultivation equipment tied to the growth of new and existing project contracts, as well as $3.4 million of incremental services revenue from acquisitions. Organic revenue growth was 48%, excluding the contribution from the 2WR+ acquisition.

The net loss was $(0.7) million, or $(0.07) per share, in the first quarter of 2022, as compared to a net loss of $(1.6) million, or a net loss per share of $(0.20), in the prior year period, representing an improvement of $0.9 million, or $0.13 per share. However, the earnings did miss the estimate for $(0.05).

Bradley Nattrass, Chairman, and CEO, said, “We are off to a strong start in 2022, reflected by our record first-quarter results, which continues to demonstrate our ability to drive unparalleled value for our clients through our full suite of in-house service offerings. We grew our revenue 75% on a year-over-year basis and continued to deliver positive Adjusted EBITDA while simultaneously making key investments that are geared toward driving long-term growth and enhancing shareholder value.”

Looking Ahead

As of March 31, 2022, the total backlog was $22 million, comprised of an equipment backlog of $16 million and a services backlog of $6 million. Urban-gro affirmed its 2022 revenue guidance of greater than $110 million and Adjusted EBITDA guidance of greater than $5.0 million, including partial year contribution from the acquisition of Emerald C.M. Inc.

Mr. Nattrass added, “I am very excited about the addition of construction management services to our platform following the Emerald C.M. acquisition. This completes our vision to create a turnkey design-build company with a full suite of capabilities and the requisite depth in indoor CEA expertise to drive value for our clients throughout the project lifecycle. Furthermore, while Emerald C.M. bolsters our project pipeline, our robust set of capabilities creates opportunities for diversification both in terms of revenue streams and industries beyond CEA. urban-gro is a formidable force with a focused strategy to deliver our value-added design, engineering, procurement, and construction management services through offering a bespoke design-build client solutions with a single point of responsibility.”


Debra BorchardtMarch 29, 2022
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5min8340

Urban-gro, Inc. (Nasdaq: UGRO) reported its fourth-quarter and full-year financial results, plus the company provided full-year 2022 guidance. Revenue was $19.0 million in the fourth quarter of 2021 versus $9.2 million in the prior-year period, representing an increase of $9.7 million, or 106%. It beat the analyst estimate for revenue of $18.8 million by Yahoo Finance. Urban-gro attributed the increase to a jump in cultivation equipment sales tied to an expansion in client base and incremental services revenue from acquisitions of $2.7 million.

The company reported a net loss of ($0.6) million, or ($0.06) per share, in the fourth quarter of 2021 versus a net loss of ($1.1) million, or a net loss per share of ($0.24), in the prior-year period, representing an increase of $0.5 million, or $0.18 per share. It missed the analyst estimate for a net loss of ($0.04) cents per share. The adjusted EBITDA was $0.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2021, compared to $0.2 million in the prior-year period. The increase in Adjusted EBITDA was driven by growth in revenues and gross profit, including the contribution from the acquisition of 2WR, and partially offset by increased operating expenses which include the Company’s ongoing investment to support its European expansion.

Full Year Results

Revenue was $62.1 million for the 2021 full year compared to $25.8 million in the prior year, representing an increase of $36.3 million, or 140%. this also topped the company’s own guidance for the year. The net loss was ($0.9) million, or $0.09 per share, for the 2021 full year compared to a net loss of ($5.1) million, or ($1.06) per share, in the prior year, representing an increase of $4.2 million, or $0.97 per share. The increase in net income was driven by properly capitalizing the company so management could effectively execute the strategic plan which is built on a high-margin services platform, which smoothly converts to the design, procurement, integration, and commissioning of equipment systems.

“I am thrilled about our strong fourth-quarter results, which capped off a record full-year performance for urban-gro,” said Bradley Nattrass, Chairman, and CEO. “In 2021, we more than doubled the company from a revenue perspective, achieved positive Adjusted EBITDA, built our backlog to record levels, and expanded our integrated service model with the strategic acquisition of the architect firm, 2WR. Building upon that momentum entering 2022, earlier this month we announced the pending acquisition of Emerald Construction, which adds an accretive and highly complementary CEA-experienced construction management services solution to our offering and further optimizes our in-house capabilities to provide complete design-built facilities to our clients. With these additional capabilities, we are in an ideal position to accelerate our momentum in the global CEA industry while simultaneously enhancing shareholder value.”

2022 Outlook

Urban-Gro gave full year revenue guidance for 2022 of at least $110 million, including urban-gro’s base revenue as well as revenue for partial year contribution from our pending Emerald acquisition. The 2022 full-year Adjusted EBITDA guidance of greater than $5 million, which includes a partial year contribution from the expected Emerald acquisition.

On March 14, 2022, the company announced the acquisition of Emerald Construction Management, Inc.  The acquisition further extends urban-gro’s services into early-stage conceptual design and planning, and it creates the industry’s first fully-integrated architecture-led design-build offering targeting the cannabis and food-focused CEA sectors. The company expects the transaction to be accretive to earnings within the first year and drive significant waterfall revenue opportunities for urban-gro’s existing suite of products and services.

Mr. Nattrass added, “I’m very excited to see what lies ahead for urban-gro. Our strong balance sheet and positive cash flow gives us the flexibility to diversify our revenue streams and pursue profitable growth opportunities. Furthermore, our differentiated set of capabilities puts us in an optimal position to generate opportunities across all geographies, crops, and equipment types and cement our footprint in the burgeoning $17 billion global vertical farming market.”


StaffMarch 22, 2022
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3min18750

The Westchester Business Journal reported that the planning board in the Town of Wawarsing in Ulster County has approved plans for Valley Agriceuticals LLC, whose parent company is Cresco Labs (OTC: CRLBF), to build 380,000-square-foot marijuana cultivation, manufacturing and distribution facility. The Business Journal said it was advised that passage of the approval resolution means that the developer can move forward with building the project. Once completed, the facility could end up employing over 300 people and Cresco has said it could be a $50 million investment for them.

In 2019, Cresco Labs Inc.(CSE: CL) (OTCQX: CRLBF) closed its acquisition of Gloucester Street Capital, LLC, the parent entity of Valley Agriceuticals, LLC via a merger between Gloucester and a subsidiary of Cresco Labs. As a result of that acquisition, Cresco Labs holds one of the 10 vertically integrated cannabis business licenses granted in the State of New York by the New York State Department of Health. Each license gives the operator the right to operate one cultivation facility and four dispensaries in New York. New York has legalized adult-use cannabis sales, but the program has not yet gotten underway.

According to the report, the facility will be built on a site covering 90.7 acres with 84.1 acres within the Town of Wawarsing and 6.6 acres in the Village of Ellenville. The site formerly was used as a manufacturing facility by the Schrade Knife company and Avnet Channel Master electronic components. Several cities in the country have given the green light to adult-use cannabis sales once the program is underway. They include Ellenville, Kingston, Lloyd, New Paltz, Rochester, Tuxedo, the town of Ulster, and the town of Warwick.

The article stated that the company says it intends to grow marijuana plants, produce marijuana products, and distribute those products from the facility. Cresco has 50 operational retail locations, 28 cultivation, and production facilities, and wholesales to over 1,000 dispensaries. The company had originally planned a large facility in the town Walkill in Orange County, but has changed its plans. The article also said that the facility would use about 98,000 gallons of water a day and its plans call for modifying two existing municipal lines to supply the plant’s water needs.

 


StaffMarch 8, 2022
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4min13090

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company (NYSE: SMG) stock was dropping 6% on news that the company lowered its full-year sales guidance for its hydroponic Hawthorne division. In addition, Scotts said the reduction would likely lead to adjusted earnings per share that are lower than previously expected. Shares were lately selling at $119, a big drop from the year’s high of $254.

Speaking at the Raymond James 43rd Annual Institutional Investors Conference, CFO Cory Miller said the Company now expects Hawthorne sales to decline 15% to 25%, including the benefit of acquisitions. The company noted that sales in the segment have been challenged for several months due to an oversupply of cannabis, which is leading to a slowdown in both indoor and outdoor cultivation.

“We believe Hawthorne sales have found the bottom in terms of average daily volume,” Miller explained. “However, there is a seasonal element to the business that would normally be in play by now that has not materialized to the extent we anticipated. While sales volume has begun to improve recently, the year-over-year rate of decline has expanded and that trend appears likely to carry through March.”

The revised Hawthorne sales outlook means ScottsMiracle-Gro is unlikely to reach the low end of its guidance for non-GAAP adjusted earnings per share. Miller said management remains optimistic about the continued strength of the U.S. Consumer segment and is working to moderate the earnings gap from the shortfall in Hawthorne sales with a goal of achieving non-GAAP adjusted earnings per share of at least $8.00.

“The midpoint for our sales guidance for our U.S. Consumer business continues to assume an 8-point decline in unit volume on a full-year basis and the business continues to significantly outperform against that plan,” Miller said. “Consumer purchases, in units, entering March are essentially flat from year-ago levels and shipments to retailers through five months are at record levels. Still, it is too early in the season to adjust our outlook for the business. However, we and our retail partners remain encouraged by the level of consumer participation we continue to see as we prepare for the peak weeks of the season.”

During his presentation to investors, Miller also said the company no longer expects a significant acquisition in fiscal 2022 to bolster its presence in the live goods category. ScottsMiracle-Gro had been actively pursuing such an opportunity over the past year but has ended those discussions.

“We see live goods as critical to our future with growth in this category through M&A remaining a major component of our strategic plan,” Miller said. “However, our M&A strategy has been successful over the last several years because we have remained disciplined in our approach and been willing to step away when the economics or other factors no longer make sense.”

Scotts said expects to provide a further update on May 3, 2022, when it releases its second-quarter results.


Debra BorchardtFebruary 25, 2022
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8min14980
This week New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed S8084A into law. The law is meant to speed up the rate of cultivation, processing, and distribution of cannabis in New York. This new law will allow hemp farmers and processors in the state to become licensed to grow and manufacture cannabis in time for the 2022 growing season.

“I am proud to sign this bill, which positions New York’s farmers to be the first to grow cannabis and jumpstart the safe, equitable and inclusive new industry we are building,” Governor Hochul said. “New York State will continue to lead the way in delivering on our commitment to bring economic opportunity and growth to every New Yorker in every corner of our great state.”

Eligible applicants must possess a valid industrial hemp grower authorization from the Department of Agriculture and Markets as of December 31, 2021, be in good standing, and have grown and harvested hemp for at least two of the last four years. The law also requires that both cultivator and processor licensees participate in a social equity mentorship program as well as an environmental sustainability program. The licenses expire on June 30, 2024.

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, “Last year, after many years of fighting, we finally enacted the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, and are beginning to undo the devastating impacts over ninety years of unequal enforcement of marijuana prohibition had on too many lives and communities. MRTA ensures that the legal adult-use market will be centered on equity and economic justice for communities of color and individuals that have been harmed most by the War on Drugs in the State of New York. With the passage of this bill, we have the opportunity to create a responsible start to the adult-use cannabis industry by authorizing temporary conditional cultivator and processor licenses to current New York hemp farmers. This authority will help secure enough safe, regulated, and environmentally conscious cannabis products to meet the demand of the adult-use cannabis market when retail dispensaries open. Importantly, this legislation calls for a Social Equity Mentorship Program, which will create a viable and inclusive path for social and economic equity partners interested in cannabis cultivation and processing to gain invaluable knowledge and experience in this emerging industry. The temporary conditional licenses authorized by this bill will ultimately help realize the vision and goals of the MRTA.”

License Types

Hemp farmers and licensed hemp processors have the opportunity to apply for and obtain the following license types:
  • Conditional Adult-use Cannabis Cultivator License
  • Conditional Adult-use Cannabis Processor License
According to a statement from the Governor’s office, “With a conditional adult-use cannabis cultivation license, farmers can grow outdoors or in a greenhouse for up to two years from the issuance of the license. It also allows them to manufacture and distribute cannabis flower products without holding an adult-use processor or distributor license, until June 1, 2023. Cultivators are limited to one acre (43,560 square feet) of flowering canopy outdoors or 25,000 square feet in a greenhouse and can use up to 20 artificial lights. They can also split between outdoor and greenhouse grows with a maximum total canopy of 30,000 square feet as long as greenhouse flowering canopy remains under 20,000 square feet.

Application Process TimingThe OCM will be developing a license application process and opening the program as soon as possible. To qualify for an Adult-use CannabisConditional Cultivator License an applicant must have been an authorized industrial hemp research partner for the Department of Agriculture and Markets, cultivating hemp for its non-intoxicating cannabinoid content for at least two of the past four years and in good standing as of December 31, 2021, when the research program ended.

Holders of the license must also participate in a social equity mentorship program where they provide training in cannabis cultivation and processing for social and economic equity partners, preparing them for potential roles in the industry. Growers will also have to meet sustainability requirements to ensure the cannabis is grown in an environmentally conscientious way.

Joe Caltabiano  CEO of Choice Consolidation Corp and co-founder of Cresco Labs said, “The New York State Senate has made clear its strong desire to ensure that affordable cannabis is available to its constituents. These legislators recognize that the product must be fairly priced in order for the legal market to flourish. This is a bold move by one of the most important markets in the US to snuff out the illicit market and proves the state does not want to end up as another California.”


Debra BorchardtFebruary 15, 2022
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Hydroponic equipment company iPower Inc. (Nasdaq: IPW) reported its financial results for its fiscal second quarter ended December 31, 2021, with total revenue increasing 52% to $17.1 million. iPower said that the increase was driven by greater in-house product sales and strong demand for ventilation products. The company reported that its net income increased 39% to $0.8 million or $0.03 per share.

“Our fiscal second quarter marked our strongest period of year-over-year revenue growth since completing our IPO last year,” said Lawrence Tan, CEO of iPower. “We are beginning to realize the benefits of continuously rolling out new high-demand, in-house branded products. During the quarter, our in-house product sales increased approximately 72% from the year ago quarter and accounted for approximately 87% of revenue—a company record. These increases demonstrate how well our products are resonating with consumers. In addition, our ability to deliver these products on a timely basis despite global supply chain headwinds provides an important asset to our channel partners.”

The company also reported that the gross profit in the fiscal second quarter of 2022 increased 53% to $7.6 million compared to $4.9 million for the same quarter in fiscal 2021. As a percentage of revenue, the gross margin was 44.1% compared to 44.0% in the year-ago quarter. This small increase in gross margin was driven by a greater mix of in-house product sales partially offset by higher freight and input costs.

“Over the past few months, we have also executed on multiple key growth initiatives, including the launch of our first in-house nutrient line, Flourish™, as well as our initial expansion into Europe through the UK and Germany. Although both initiatives are in their infancy, we believe they present compelling new avenues to drive growth and increase market share.”

iPower noted that the total operating expenses in the fiscal second quarter were $6.4 million compared to $4.1 million for the same period in fiscal 2021. As a percentage of revenue, operating expenses were 37.5% compared to 36.4% in the year-ago quarter. The increase was driven by higher sales volumes, increased advertising to support the launch of new products, as well as increased headcount for new channel sales.

iPower CFO Kevin Vassily added, “We are continuing to navigate the volatile supply chain environment, which has not materially improved since our last quarterly report despite signs of recovery last fall. We plan to continue mitigating the cost volatility through our diversified network of partners and continue to expect fiscal 2022 to be another strong year of growth and execution for iPower.”

Cash and cash equivalents were $1.0 million at December 31, 2021, compared to $6.7 million on June 30, 2021. The decrease was attributed to the timing of accounts receivables with the company’s largest channel partner and is not an indication of any other business or operating trend. Total long-term debt as of December 31, 2021, was $7.4 million compared to $0.5 million as of June 30, 2021. The increase was attributable to increased working capital expenses.


Debra BorchardtFebruary 2, 2022
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Agrify Corporation (Nasdaq: AGFY)  is buying the distillation company Lab Society in a deal valued at $8 million. Agrify said in a statement that Lab Society’s annual revenue for 2021 was approximately $10 million, and the acquisition is expected to be accretive in early 2022. The acquisition is part of Agrify’s strategy to expand beyond just lighting and cultivation software. 

“We are ecstatic to add Lab Society to our portfolio of high-quality extraction solutions,” said  Raymond Chang, Chairman, and CEO of Agrify. “As federal legalization edges closer to reality, we believe the United States government will likely increase its role in setting the quality,  consistency, and safety standards for medical and recreational cannabis products. By owning  the top key solutions that produce the highest quality and the widest range of extracted cannabis  products at scale, we expect it will provide Agrify with a significant competitive differentiation,  enhanced customer value-add, superior industry leadership position and significant growth  opportunities globally.” 

Since September 2021, Agrify has been on a tear buying up companies in the extraction space. These acquisitions include Precision Extraction Solutions, which is involved in developing and producing high-quality hydrocarbon extraction solutions, Cascade Sciences which is known for developing and producing high-quality vacuum purge ovens and decarboxylation ovens, and also PurePressure, a maker of high-quality solventless extraction solutions. Lab Society brings distillation and solvent separation extraction solutions to the table.

Despite a recent short-seller report, Agrify stock has been moving higher over the past few days. Shares were lately selling at $6.39, moving up from a recent low of $5.28.

Purchase Details

The purchase price for Lab Society consists of $4 million in cash and $4 million in unregistered shares of Agrify common stock, subject to adjustments as set forth in the definitive agreement. There is also an additional earn-out opportunity of up to $3.5 million if the revenue generated from Lab Society’s products reaches certain milestones in 2022 and 2023. 

Lab Society was founded in 2015 and is headquartered in Boulder, Colorado. The company has a proprietary software, called EliteLab that provides the comprehensive ability to maximize hardware utilization featuring control of temperature control units (TCUs), pressure controllers and gauges, balances, and scales, and agitation stir controllers. The company said that the ability to take cannabis compounds distilled into their pure forms, and then recombine them into specific,  purposeful end-products could have significant potential for the pharmaceutical industry in the future. 

“We are excited to be a part of Agrify’s extraction division,” said Michael Maibach Jr., Founder  and CEO of Lab Society. “With a much larger sales team and additional resources, we are  excited to be in a position to drive rapid growth and future innovative product development.”

 


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