The SAFE Act bet didn't pan out for investors.
The SAFE Act bet didn't pan out for investors.
Canadian-based Horizons ETFs Management Inc. is beefing up its cannabis index funds for investors, with consolidation moves set to kick in a week from now.
The news comes as marijuana companies continue to post declining profits amid a tightening economic landscape that finds most asset classes and equity indices in the negative.
Horizons’ posted a consolidation ratio of 1:4 for their U.S. marijuana index ETF (HMUS) and a 1:2 ratio for its BetaPro Marijuana Companies 2x Daily Bull ETF (HMJU) – which tracks the North American MOC Marijuana Index (NTR). Their Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF (HMMJ) saw a 1:2 ratio. The consolidations will kick in after the Toronto Stock Exchange and the NEO Stock Exchange close on Friday.
Those active in the industry have signaled cooling demand for marijuana stocks. Investors and analysts took bearish positions on the “second-worst performing asset class by performance” in a recent third-quarter sentiment survey conducted by Horizons ETFs.
The North American Marijuana Index fell 42.54% in the second quarter this year, and outlooks among analysts surveyed remain relatively flat, with advisors fortifying their bearish stance. The survey added two percentage points of negative sentiment for 44% bearishness. Investors’ negative opinion remained unchanged at 37% bearishness.
At the same time, their North American Psychedelics Index ETF (PSYK) saw a 1:4 consolidation ratio. 45% of analysts surveyed are bearish about the asset class.
Morgan Paxhia, co-founder and managing partner of Poseidon, noted in an interview with The Green Market Report that many ETFs launched products at a time when markets were “a lot more robust.” He attributed the drop to shaved sources of capital brought by stalled banking legislation as well as the cyclical nature of the economy.
“They probably saw overlap within their strategy where it wasn’t really making much sense,” he said. “I think it’s a good thing. Ultimately, this is kind of like a natural process, and we’re seeing this on the private side as well.”
As interest wanes with stock prices declining, firms will see fewer opportunities in a bear market.
“The speed at which they can move is is probably going to catch some people off guard,” he said, adding that ETFs are “an incredible vehicle for capturing those movements, because you’re just buying one ETF and getting a whole basket.”
“They can do very well when this market does finally turn,” he said.
Just about anyone in the cannabis industry will tell you how hard it is. Legalization issues, banking constraints, and a preponderance of OTC stocks make it even harder to be a cannabis ETF (exchange traded fund). Recently the sponsor of the Cannabis Growth ETF (BUDX), Foothill Capital Management, chose to close the fund, roughly six months after it converted it from a mutual fund into an ETF with $3.9 million in assets under management. April 25 was expected to be its last day of trading.
There is so much interest in trading cannabis stocks that an ETF seems like an easy sell. When BUDX launched as a marijuana ETF, it was entering a very crowded market, with several existing ETFs tracking cannabis representing billions of dollars in assets. The largest is currently the $1 billion AdvisorShares Pure US Cannabis ETF (MSOS), which launched in 2020 and usurped the original ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (MJ) as the largest U.S.-listed marijuana ETF. MSOS has pulled in nearly $760 million over the last 12 months, while MJ lost more than $145 million.
The backdrop to the cannabis sector along with many others is the overall bear market. Prices for marijuana stocks overall have plunged. For the past year, the Horizons US Marijuana Index ETF and the US Marijuana Companies Index ETF are both down 64%. The Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences ETF has dropped 61% for the past year and the North American Marijuana Index has fallen by 64%. It’s pretty hard to convince new money to invest in an ETF that has experienced a huge valuation loss.
Matt Hawkins, founder and managing principal of Entourage Effect Capital said, “Investors in any sector are generally more skittish in a bear market. This is especially true for retail investors, a group that the public cannabis industry heavily relies upon. As primarily private-side investors in the cannabis industry, we feel that the depressed valuations create a tremendous investment climate for this emerging market.”
Back in September 2021, Foothill Managing Director Max Banhazl told ETF.com that the mutual fund had trouble getting shelf space on securities broker platforms, and it may have run into the same problem after it adopted the ETF wrapper. Hawkins added, “It is definitely challenging to have so many stocks on the OTC instead of the NASDAQ and NYSE, and this is something we expect to continue for the foreseeable future. When differentiating cannabis ETFs, it is our opinion that the larger multi-state operators (MSO’s) and sizable single-state operators (SSO’s) in the larger state markets have an advantage over other public companies on the plant-touching side.”
BUDX is the first ETF converted from a mutual fund into an ETF to close, but it wasn’t the only cannabis product to shut down. At the end of December, the Bank of Montreal closed out two of its cannabis Exchange Traded Note products. Both the MicroSectors Cannabis ETN that used the symbol MJJ and the MicroSectors Cannabis 2X Leveraged ETN using the symbol MJO.
In general, it hasn’t been great for ETFs overall. The total number of announced and completed closures of all types of ETF’s for the year comes to 33. A total of 16 ETFs have closed so far this year compared with 19 last year. However, the planned closures of BUDX, eight funds issued by ProShares and five funds issued by Transamerica that are set to be complete by early May boost the total well ahead of last year’s comparable number for the same period
While some are finding the space, difficult, others are continuing to jump in. Roundhill Investments launched the Roundhill Cannabis ETF (WEED) on April 20. The fund invests in various cannabis-related companies and says it may utilize total return swaps to provide exposure to U.S.-focused cannabis companies. The Advisor is waiving 0.16% of its management fee for the Fund until at least April 30, 2023. The NAV though has plunged from its initial price of $15.32 to lately closing at $11.68. It currently has $1.8 million in assets under management. Its gross expense ratio is 0.75% and it is listed on the Cboe Exchange.
In November, AdvisorShares rolled out its third ETF to focus on marijuana. The AdvisorShares Poseidon Dynamic Cannabis ETF (PSDN) joins the AdvisorShares Pure US Cannabis ETF (MSOS)—the largest marijuana ETF trading in the U.S. with $1.24 billion in assets under management—and the $258 million AdvisorShares Pure Cannabis ETF (YOLO). PSDN comes with an expense ratio of 0.92% and lists on the NYSE Arca.
The fund, like all AdvisorShares offerings, is actively managed, with Poseidon Investment Management listed as its subadvisor. Poseidon has been involved in managing cannabis assets since 2013 via hedge funds. What sets PSDN apart, in particular, is its ability to implement leverage on select securities in its portfolio. The ETF, according to its prospectus, can apply up to 1.5x leverage to individual securities in the fund.
Tyler Grief, Portfolio Manager at Poseidon Asset Management seems to think that smart money sees a bear market as a buy signal. “Whenever a sector is underperforming, like cannabis, it is more difficult to attract investors. However, those investors which do have the foresight to invest in the tougher times generally outperform over the longer term. We have experienced increasing interest from investors, especially institutional, as the sector has taken a beating. Many of them see opportunity and are waiting for the right time to pull the trigger.”
Poseidon though faces the same structural stock issues as the other ETF’s. Grief added, “The main disadvantage is that institutional investors are less likely to invest in OTC stocks. This lack of institutional investment impacts liquidity and influences valuations. We are optimistic that up-listing to NYSE and NASDAQ of U.S. cannabis stocks will happen in the future. Canadian cannabis companies are allowed to list on the NYSE and NASDAQ, yet US cannabis companies are not. This should obviously change and it is up to Congress to do so.”
Poseidon Investment Management announced the launch of the AdvisorShares Poseidon Dynamic Cannabis ETF (Ticker: PSDN). The PSDN ETF began trading on Wednesday, November 17, 2021, is sponsored by AdvisorShares. It will be sub-advised and managed by the Poseidon team, including co-founders and Managing Directors Emily Paxhia and Morgan Paxhia and Managing Director Tyler Greif. Poseidon is one of the earliest cannabis investing teams that has $196 million in assets under management as of August 2021.
“Poseidon was one of the first investment firms dedicated to cannabis investments, navigating this complex and evolving industry to help companies grow and thrive from startups to public companies,” said Emily Paxhia, co-founder and Managing Director of Poseidon, and Portfolio Manager of PSDN. “Our track record speaks to our deep knowledge of the space and our commitment to understanding the needs of the companies we invest in. PSDN broadens the reach of our unique investment philosophy and provides simple, secure, accessible investing into one of the world’s most exciting asset classes.”
ETF’s Have Underperformed
Poseidon will have their work cut out for them. Cannabis ETF’s have mostly underperformed this year as the underlying stocks have been wallowing in a seeming never ending bear market. AdvisorShares Pure US Cannabis ETF (Ticker: MSOS) reached a year high of $55 but was lately selling shares at $30, while AdvisorShares Pure Cannabis ETF (Ticker: YOLO) hit a year’s high of $31 and was recently selling its shares at $16. The Cannabis ETF (THCX) also topped out this year at $30 and was lately selling at $12 a share.
Poseidon said that the fund will try to identify companies strategically positioned to benefit from the cannabis industry and its supporting infrastructure in the U.S. and emerging global cannabis markets. PSDN’s portfolio is diversified across subsectors of the cannabis industry and dynamically managed to tactically overweight or underweight specific countries, subsectors, or individual companies. PSDN said it may seek to take advantage of specific market opportunities by intelligently using leverage to maximize potential returns. If the values of the underlying stocks start to recover, the PSDN’s timing could be quite good.
“We are excited to partner with an established and experienced team like Poseidon to bring their institutional portfolio management approach into the mainstream investment infrastructure,” said Noah Hamman, chief executive officer of AdvisorShares. “Active ETFs in the cannabis space continue to gain traction with investors seeking to access managers with proven success records in the fast-growing, dynamic industry.”
The ETF Managers Group has launched its fourth cannabis ETF. The ETFMG 2x Daily Inverse Alternative Harvest ETF will trade on the NYSE Arca using the symbol MJIN. The company said that MJIN is designed to seek daily leveraged investment results of two times the inverse (-2x) (or opposite) of the performance of the Prime Alternative Harvest Index, providing investors access to the global cannabis ecosystem and benefitting directly from widespread medicinal and recreational legalization initiatives.
“The launch of MJIN marks another first-to-market for ETFMG and rounds out our full suite of cannabis investment offerings,” says Sam Masucci, CEO, and Founder of ETFMG. “We are a one-stop shop for investors looking to capitalize on the global and U.S. cannabis sectors.”
The new ETF joins MJ, the first U.S. listed and world’s largest cannabis ETF, MJUS, providing access to top names in U.S. cannabis, including multi-state operators (MSOs) and MJXL, providing 2x daily the performance of the Prime Alternative Harvest Index. The company said in a statement that the new ETF also adds to the firm’s suite of 2x Daily Leveraged ETFs, structured to give investors short-term, magnified exposure to high-growth themes already offered by ETFMG.
“Investor interest in the cannabis sector has continued to increase as the industry has expanded on the back of strong fundamentals and the growing prospect of legislative reform. While most investors are primarily focused on capturing the long-term potential of the cannabis industry, many have been seeking a short-term trading vehicle to help hedge, from time to time, the downside volatility that can come along with investing in an emerging sector. As the cannabis industry continues to expand and diversify, so should its related investment options. It’s a privilege to be able to provide cannabis investors with a full suite of investment options, including the ability to achieve either long or short exposure to the sector,” says Jason Wilson, ETFMG’s Cannabis Research and Banking Expert.
“We are proud to expand our relationship with ETFMG as it launches yet another essential investment product for the cannabis industry,” says Kris Monaco, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Prime Indexes. “ETFMG’s new fund reinforces the Prime Alternative Harvest index as the key benchmark for investors in an industry that is still in its infancy.”
Cannabis stocks have taken a beating in the second quarter, so investors are hoping that valuations will recover in the back half of the year. In exclusive comments to Green Market Report, Jason Wilson, cannabis banking and research expert at ETFMG (NYSE: MJ), which issues the ETFMG Alternative Harvest exchange-traded fund, has given his opinion about the industry for the rest of 2021. The comments are overwhelmingly positive. Despite the downturn in stock valuations, the MJ cannabis ETF has seen a return for the first six months of 2021 that has exceeded 40%.
“Several factors have been driving cannabis sales over the last few years: the size of the total addressable market has expanded as more states and countries move to legalize cannabis; the number of consumers has increased in existing markets as canna-curious customers transition to cannabis products, and transaction volume among existing customers in established markets has increased as the number of dispensaries has grown and buying experiences have improved,” said Wilson. He noted that the market has been expanding at a rate of 30% every year.
“There has been some speculation that the recent growth in the cannabis market has been fuelled by the pandemic, leading some to suggest that 2021 might not experience the sales growth of years past, but so far, as the economy starts to recover and emerge from COVID-19, the trend of strong sales growth has continued in 2021. In the U.S., mature markets such as Colorado, Oregon, and Washington state are averaging 26% year-over-year sales growth while newer markets such as Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan and Pennsylvania are averaging 136% year-over-year sales growth. The story has been similar in Canada where 2021 Q1 sales exceeded 2020 Q1 sales by approximately 70%,” he added.
There are many positive catalysts to support continued growth. While 18 states have legalized the sale of adult-use cannabis, the actual sale of recreational cannabis has only begun in 11 states. New Jersey could begin sales in 2021, while New York is slated to begin sales in April 2022. These are expected to be two of the largest markets in the industry. In addition to these two, New Mexico is on deck to begin its adult-use sales in April 2022 as well.
The industry has managed to persevere even though it has been subjected to numerous hurdles like a lack of banking and credit card processing, unfair taxation and sometimes expensive capital. Wilson though believes that with voter support for federal legalization initiatives at an all-time high, combined with the positive economic impact cannabis legalization would provide through job creation and increased tax revenues (it has been estimated that the total U.S. economic impact will reach $92 billion in 2021), it is widely anticipated that the current administration will have enough momentum to pass federal legislation that provides meaningful cannabis reform.
He concluded, “So while the current challenges and headwinds have created significant volatility for investors to date, it appears that the catalysts remain in place for the domestic and global cannabis markets to continue to expand at a significant pace for the foreseeable future.”
Canadian-based Horizons ETFs Management Inc. has completed the quarterly rebalances of the holdings of the Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF (TSX: HMMJ) and the Horizons US Marijuana Index ETF (NEO: HMUS). HMMJ is an index (or passively managed) ETF, which seeks to replicate, to the extent possible, the performance of the North American Marijuana Index, net of expenses. The North American Marijuana Index selects from a current universe of companies that have operations that may include one or more offerings of biopharmaceuticals, medical manufacturing, distribution, bio-products, and other ancillary businesses related to the marijuana industry.
Marijuana Life Sciences Index
This quarter, 3 companies were added to HMMJ’s portfolio:
|Inner Spirit Holdings Ltd.||ISH||CSE|
|Tetra Bio-Pharma Inc.||TBP||TSX|
|Jazz Pharmaceuticals PLC||JAZZ||NASDAQ|
HMUS is the world’s first U.S.-focused marijuana index ETF. HMUS seeks to replicate, to the extent possible, the performance of the US Marijuana Companies Index, net of expenses. This index, which also rebalances quarterly, has been designed to provide exposure to the performance of a basket of publicly listed companies with significant business activities in, or significant exposure to, the marijuana or hemp industries in the United States. Constituents of this index are selected from Canadian and U.S. exchanges.
This rebalance resulted in 9 companies added to the HMUS portfolio:
|Ascend Wellness Holdings||AAWH/U||CSE|
|AFC Gamma Inc.||AFCG||NASDAQ|
|Chalice Brands Ltd.||CHAL||CSE|
|Captor Capital Corp.||CPTR||CSE|
|Flora Growth Corp.||FLGC||NASDAQ|
|Gage Growth Corp.||GAGE||CSE|
|Hollister Biosciences Inc.||HOLL||CSE|
|Lowell Farms Inc.||LOWL||CSE|
|Verano Holdings Corp.||VRNO||CSE|
“Halfway into 2021, we’re seeing increased momentum in the U.S. for marijuana liberalization, both from a grassroots level and recently, from major companies and policy influencers,” said Mr. Hawkins. “Connecticut, the most recent state to legalize recreational marijuana, became the 19th state to do so, edging the country closer to a ‘pro-cannabis majority’. Now, Amazon, the country’s largest private employer, has signaled its intent to support the MORE Act and will no longer assess employees for marijuana use on drug tests. These are important milestones that are opening the door for broader federal marijuana reform in the country.”
ETF Managers Group has launched its latest cannabis ETF (exchange-traded fund) that will once again focus on the cannabis U.S. stocks. The ETFMG U.S. Alternative Harvest ETF (NYSE Arca: MJUS) will begin trading today on the New York Stock Exchange. The company said that the MJUS offers investors exposure to cannabis companies operating in the United States, including multi-state operators (MSOs) directly involved in the cultivation, production, marketing, and distribution of cannabis or cannabis-related products.
U.S. cannabis single and multi-state operators are currently only available to investors through second-tier, foreign exchanges, which are not widely accessible through U.S. brokerages. This is why U.S.-focused ETFs have proven to be so popular. The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (NYSE Arca: MJ), which debuted in December 2017, has nearly $1.7 Billion assets under management. MJUS seeks to achieve its investment objective by investing in cannabis companies within the Prime U.S. Alternative Harvest Index that derive at least 50% of their net revenue in the United States and in derivatives that have economic characteristics similar to such securities.
“We are especially proud to be bringing yet another cannabis product to investors, specifically an ETF that captures one of the greatest untapped areas of growth potential in the industry,” says Sam Masucci, founder, and CEO of ETFMG.
As the largest cannabis market globally, legal cannabis sales in the U.S. exceeded $17.5 billion in 2020, representing a 46% increase over 2019’s $12.1 billion of sales. With several factors driving growth in the U.S., including more states legalizing cannabis and more consumers entering the market in existing legal markets, the rapid expansion of the U.S. cannabis industry is expected to continue and ultimately generate $85 billion in sales by 2030.
“With voter support for federal legalization initiatives at an all-time high, combined with the positive economic impact cannabis legalization would provide through job creation and increased tax revenues, it is widely anticipated that the current administration will pass federal legislation providing meaningful cannabis reform, which would greatly benefit existing U.S. cannabis-related businesses,” says Jason Wilson, ETFMG Cannabis Research and Banking Expert.
This week the first psychedelic stock ETF (exchange-traded fund) will begin trading on the Canadian NEO exchange under the ticker PSYK on January 27. The base currency will be Canadian dollars. The ETF will be managed by Canadian financial services company Horizons ETF Management and it will be focused on the emerging psychedelics opportunity led by life science and pharmaceutical companies. Horizons noted that a growing body of clinical research has demonstrated the potential use of psychedelic compounds, such as psilocybin and ketamine, as treatment for mental illness, depression, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other medical conditions. As a result, there is a growing number of public companies listed in North America that are focused on the development of therapeutic solutions using psychedelics.
Horizons said that PSYK will seek to replicate the performance of a market index that is “designed to provide exposure to the performance of a basket of North American publicly-listed life sciences companies having significant business activities in, or significant exposure to, the psychedelics industry. PSYK will be using the North American Psychedelics Index as its market index. The Index is a proprietary index owned and operated by Horizons ETFs, and Solactive AG is the independent calculation agent for the Index.”
“After decades of restrictions, recent policy changes and exemptions in Canada and the United States have allowed for increased research in the therapeutic application of psychedelic compounds, and the potential to create an entirely new marketplace for drugs derived from psychedelics,” said Steve Hawkins, President, and CEO of Horizons ETFs. “PSYK will give investors exposure to the leading public companies undertaking this important research and development of treatments for the more than 700 million people globally that, according to the World Health Organization, suffer from some sort of mental illness, addiction or eating disorder.”
Companies In The ETF
A total of 17 North American life sciences companies have been included in the initial ETF portfolio. These companies form part of the North American Psychedelics Index, provided by German index provider Solactive, which underlies the PSYK ETF. They are:
Tim Moore, CEO of Havn Life said in a statement, “Our team is excited to be included in Horizons Psychedelics ETF, which will allow Havn Life to become visible to and available to a wider investment community. This is an opportunity to provide added shareholder value as we continue to execute our operational milestones.”
“We are honoured to be selected as part of the first-ever Psychedelic ETF. This is a milestone moment for our industry and for MINDCURE, as we continue to explore, develop and commercialize products to give hope and healing to a world in pain and suffering from a mental health crisis. This solidifies our position amongst peers and gives investors a great opportunity to support our industry as a whole,” said Kelsey Ramsden, President & CEO, MINDCURE. “We congratulate our peers and believe it is a privilege to build a new category of care and investment together.”
“While medicinal psychedelics are certainly not new, the legal market and the ability to invest in these cutting-edge companies certainly is new,” said Joshua Bartch, Co-Founder & CEO, Mydecine in a company statement. “Together, with these 17 companies, Mydecine is helping to build an industry that is investing in and researching innovative solutions for treating previously untreatable mental illness. We are honored that we are included, and we are also mindful that this now gives more people, who may be new to the space, the ability to access and diversify their investments. By having exposure to many different companies with solid fundamentals, but different approaches, philosophies, indications, and technologies, is healthy for investors in the industry.”
“We launched the world’s first Cannabis-focused ETF in 2017, the Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF (HMMJ), and we see many similarities between that industry in 2017 when it was in its infancy to the psychedelics industry now. We see the potential for significant growth from this new sector like what we have witnessed with the Cannabis industry during the last few years.” said Mr. Hawkins. “At Horizons ETFs we strive to be at the forefront of key global transformative investment themes. We believe the opportunities with psychedelics not only provide a compelling investment case, but also the potential to provide life-changing impact for those suffering with mental illness.”
AdvisorShares has launched the AdvisorShares Pure US Cannabis ETF (Ticker: MSOS), which will begin trading this Wednesday (September 2nd). MSOS becomes the first U.S.-listed active ETF to deliver exposure dedicated solely to American cannabis companies, including multi-state operators (MSOs). MSOs are U.S. companies directly involved in the legal production and distribution of cannabis in states where approved.
The company said that MSOS will seek long-term capital appreciation by investing entirely in legal, domestic cannabis equity securities. MSOS’ domestic equity strategy allows this active ETF to allocate its underlying portfolio among multi-state operator (MSO) companies as well as other U.S.-based cannabis-focused areas such a REITs, cannabidiol (CBD), pharmaceutical and hydroponics.
MSOS becomes AdvisorShare’s second dedicated cannabis investment strategy alongside the AdvisorShares Pure Cannabis ETF (Ticker: YOLO). When YOLO launched on April 18, 2019, it became the first U.S.-listed active ETF dedicated to cannabis exposure – investing in both domestic and foreign cannabis equity securities. MSOS joins YOLO as the only U.S.-listed cannabis ETFs that maintain an established, Federal bank as fund custodian.
The portfolio manager of MSOS is Dan Ahrens, AdvisorShares chief operating officer, who also serves as portfolio manager of YOLO and the AdvisorShares Vice ETF (Ticker: ACT). Ahrens carries a well-established expertise of investing in cannabis and other highly regulated areas of the market.
“We are pleased to offer MSOS in addition to YOLO which we believe responds further to meeting investors’ demands for more U.S. cannabis investment exposure,” said Ahrens. “We believe that the U.S. clearly represents the most attractive opportunity for cannabis investment and remains an exponentially larger market than the Canadian cannabis market. We feel strongly that our active portfolio management serves as the most advantageous way to invest in the emerging cannabis space.”
Ahrens has long held the view that the U.S. cannabis market is largely untapped and possesses the most significant upside potential in the global cannabis marketplace. Early in the COVID-19 crisis, cannabis dispensaries were deemed essential business in most U.S. states and never closed. Both CBD and marijuana have sold at record levels throughout Canada and legal states in the U.S. this year. Ahrens steadfastly believes security selection and risk management remains imperative in this emerging and volatile space.
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