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Cannabis Short Sellers Now Down $473M In 2020 Following Tilray-Aphria Merger

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Cannabis Short Sellers Now Down $473M In 2020 Following Tilray-Aphria Merger

After a brutal start to the year for cannabis investors, the ETF MANAGERS TR/TIERRA XP LATIN AME (NYSE: MJ) has rallied 36% in the past three months, propelled in large part by bullish U.S. election results in November.

This week, shares of Tilray Inc (NASDAQ: TLRY) rallied after the company announced a merger with Canadian competitor Aphria Inc (NASDAQ: APHA).

The Numbers: Short sellers have aggressively piled into cannabis stocks in the past nine months, with cannabis stock short interest up about $1.15 billion to $2.81 billion since late March. The only good news for cannabis short sellers since March is that average stock borrow fees in the space have dropped from 30.3% to just 5%, according to S3 Partners analyst Ihor Dusaniwsky.

As of this week, Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd (OTC: TGODF) is the most expensive cannabis stock to short with a 46.1% borrow fee.

Despite the recent rally, it hasn’t been all green for cannabis stocks this year. As of Wednesday, Aurora Cannabis Inc (NYSE: ACB) has been the most profitable short of the year in the cannabis group with Aurora short sellers sitting on a year-to-date profit of $123.8 million.

Related Link: Quantumscape, Kodak Among Analyst's Top Short Squeeze Candidates

Consolidation Ahead? Cannabis short sellers have trimmed their year-to-date losses by $245.1 million so far in the month of December. However, thanks in part to the election, cannabis short sellers are still down $473.6 million overall in 2020.

Dusaniwsky said Wednesday that traders should watch the most shorted cannabis stocks for signs of a short squeeze, especially if the Tilray-Aphria merger marks the beginning of a consolidation wave in the industry.

“The underlying reasons for a short squeeze in the Cannabis sector were decreasing with the recent decrease in stock borrow costs and recent increase in mark-to-market profits, but the Tilray-Aphria merger may tighten the squeeze once again,” Dusaniwsky said.

The following are the five largest cannabis short positions as of Wednesday:

  • Canopy Growth Corp (NASDAQ: CGC): $1.17 billion in short interest.
  • GW Pharmaceuticals PLC- ADR (NASDAQ: GWPH): $333.4 million in short interest.
  • Aurora Cannabis: $325.2 million in short interest.
  • Cronos Group Inc (NASDAQ: CRON): $318.9 million in short interest.
  • Aphria: $236.9 million in short interest.

Benzinga’s Take: Cannabis stocks will likely continue to be volatile in the near term while the industry matures. Long-term investors should continue to monitor the progress ofU.S. state-by-state and federal legalization efforts given the U.S. market will likely be the biggest opportunity for the industry in coming years.

Latest Ratings for TLRY

DateFirmActionFromTo
Feb 2021BenchmarkDowngradesBuyHold
Feb 2021Piper SandlerDowngradesOverweightNeutral
Feb 2021Cantor FitzgeraldMaintainsNeutral

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