Aphria's Canadian pot sales rise in Q2 despite escalating costs

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Aphria Inc. reported better-than-expected second-quarter results Thursday as the pot giant’s sales continued to grow in the competitive Canadian cannabis market. 

The Leamington, Ont.-based company said it made $160.5 million in revenue, a 33-per-cent increase from the same period a year earlier. The company also posted $12.6 million in adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), marking a sizeable increase from the $1.9 million reported last year. 

Aphria reported a net loss of $120.6 million in the second quarter, which it attributed to rising general costs, an increase in share-based compensation, as well as expenses related to its acquisition of U.S. craft brewer Sweetwater Brewing Co. in November. 

Analysts polled by Bloomberg expected Aphria to report about $153 million in revenue and $11.4 million in EBITDA. 

Aphria's sales were largely led by its European pharmaceutical distribution business, in addition to its Canadian cannabis operations, which saw a seventh-straight quarter of increasing sales. The company said its average sale price for cannabis edged higher to $4.29 per gram in the quarter, from $4.15 per gram in the prior quarter. That increase is notable, given the influx of other competitors in the crowded Canadian market. 

"We are pleased with our second-quarter results which reflect the strength of our diversified global cannabis and consumer packaged goods businesses," said Irwin Simon, Aphria chief executive officer, in a statement. 

"Our market-leading adult-use cannabis brands and sales remained strong and our international medical cannabis sales are off to a solid start."

The company said it remains on track to close its acquisition of Canadian pot rival Tilray Inc. in the second quarter of this year.

Aphria added that it expects to report positi​ve cash flow in its next fiscal quarter. 

Simon said during a conference call with analysts that Tilray-Aphria will have a combined market share of 20 per cent in Canada, seven percentage points higher than Canopy Growth Corp. Simon said he expects that position to eventually jump to 30 per cent.

Aphria had 16 per cent of the Ontario market, the country's biggest consumer market, Simon added. 

However, Stifel analyst Andrew Carter said in a report Thursday that Aphria's cannabis revenue growth may slow down in coming quarters.

"We believe it is a key question of whether Aphria can return to consistent market share gains with the current portfolio and increasing competitiveness of the Canadian market," Carter said. 

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