(Bloomberg) — Tilray Inc. and other pot stocks soared for a third day as Reddit-inspired retail traders turned their attention from GameStop Corp. to the cannabis sector.
Tilray jumped as much as 58% to $67 per share before paring back some gains on Wednesday. The earlier gain had put it on track for its biggest three-day pop ever, which would have been a remarkable feat given its surge in September 2018, one month before Canada legalized recreational use of marijuana.
The gains come amid a broader sector rally on potential U.S. regulatory reform and a string of positive earnings from the likes of Canopy Growth Corp., which said it expects to gain access to the U.S. market this year. The rally in Tilray shares helped push the ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF, known for its MJ ticker, 20% higher before it also pared back gains. The ETF was also on track for its biggest three-day gain ever.
Pot stocks have outperformed since the Democrats took control of Congress with the Georgia runoff elections in January. MJ has more than doubled since the beginning of the year and Tilray has surged over 500%.
However, most cannabis stocks are still well below the highs they reached in late 2018 when Canada became the first large economy to legalize recreational pot. MJ hit an intraday record of $45.40 on Sept. 19, 2018 and was trading around $30 on Wednesday. Tilray, which was the first pot stock to list on a major U.S. exchange, hit a high of $300 that same month in 2018.
Charles Taerk, a cannabis investment adviser, said the stocks are gaining partly because of growing optimism around U.S. legalization and partly because of retail traders piling in. Taerk is the chief executive officer of Faircourt Asset Management, which acts as an adviser to the cannabis-focused Ninepoint Alternative Health Fund.
“The Reddit crowd have turned their sights to some of the most-shorted cannabis names,” Taerk said. “It’s the same strategy that went on with AMC and GameStop.”
About 23% of Tilray’s tradable shares are sold short, according to data from S3 Partners, which could make it a ripe short squeeze target by Reddit users. Traders widely circulated news online that Tilray signed a deal Tuesday to distribute its medical cannabis products in the U.K.
There could be a huge run in cannabis if some of the “influence and buying power” of the U.S. retail market gets behind the sector, said Jason Zandberg at PI Financial. Canadian retail investors played a key role in the sector’s rally during Canada’s legalization phase.
Aphria Inc. announced a merger with Tilray in December. With Tilray’s surge, the deal is worth about C$66 per Aphria share, almost double its price on Wednesday.
Other pot stocks rallying Wednesday included Zynerba Pharmaceuticals Inc., Organigram Holdings Inc., Supreme Cannabis Company Inc., Auxly Cannabis Group Inc. and Aurora Cannabis Inc., all up by double digits.
(Adds premium to Aphria deal in penultimate paragraph.)
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