It is well known that a career is a lifelong journey that can take many turns. Today we’re taking a look at an inspiring story of a pharmacist who ended up managing a fund focused on cannabis and healthcare.
Jason Wild, founder, president and CIO of JW Asset Management and TerrAscend’s TER TRSSF executive chairman, will deliver the keynote speech at the upcoming Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference to be held on April 20 and April 21 at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach Hotel.
From Pharma To Cannabis
Originally a pharmacist, Wild’s journey led him to become an investor with a successful firm that manages investments in pharmaceuticals and cannabis producers.
However, it wasn’t always that way. Wild actually started out with $80,000, which he used to launch JW Asset Management, LLC fund in 1998. Nearly two decades later, his interest shifted to medical cannabis companies in Canada.
As a graduate of the Arnold and Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy, Wild primarily focused on pharmaceutical investments.
At the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference in New York this past October, Wild told Tim Seymour, portfolio manager at Amplify Seymour Cannabis ETF CNBS and senior advisor at JW Asset Management, that he was much more interested in the stock market and “investing in pharmaceutical stocks as opposed to filling prescriptions.”
Early success came from assembling Arbor Pharmaceuticals in 2010 and after selling it to KKR KKR in 2014 for a sizable profit, which he then invested in major Canadian cannabis companies. Wild has since become one of the first U.S. institutional investors in legal cannabis companies.
During his trip to Canada, around 2015 or 2016, he heard about CBD for the first time. “I was really excited to hear about all the true medical uses for cannabis,” Wild said.
After initial success in Canada, came a “large investment” in TerrAscend toward the end of 2017, when “we pivoted the fun into the U.S,” he explained.
In November of the same year, the company secured a $52.5 million investment from Canopy Growth Corporation CGC WEED, Canopy Rivers - now RIV Capital CNPOF - and JW Asset Management.
TerrAscend, which grew from a cannabis start-up to a large cannabis company in less than four years, expanded south of the border in early 2019, establishing a presence in the U.S. through the $118.4-million acquisition of California-based retailer Apothecarium.
“The U.S. is a much more vibrant market,” Wild said. “We can do the real business. Canada is very tough.”
The Vibrant U.S. Market
Earlier this month, TerrAscend wrapped up its long-negotiated $545 million acquisition of Gage Cannabis expanding its footprint in California, Michigan, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Canada. The combined company’s retail network is now expected to reach 40 stores by the end of 2022.
The company also formed a partnership with Berner’s Cookies in New Jersey last year where it will exclusively provide the brand’s products. The deal came about through Gage, the exclusive Cookies processor in Michigan.
Wild said that the “combination of TerrAscend and Gage has created one of the most compelling and differentiated operators in the North American cannabis industry.”
TerrAscend also had its fair share of the cannabis industry’s unexpected growth.
As the fifth anniversary of going public approaches, TerrAscend’s stock is outperforming some of the most popular in the world, such as Apple AAPL, Netflix NFLX, Meta FB (previously Facebook) and Amazon AMZN. It’s up from CA$1.07 ($0.84) per share to CA$7.15 for a return of 568,22%.
Q4 Earnings & Analyst Forecasts
The company recently reported net sales of $49.2 million, being flat sequentially. Net sales for 2021 totaled $210.4 million, representing a 42% year-over-year increase.
In Pennsylvania, the company recently rectified previously disclosed yield issues with the highest quality flower the facility has ever grown hitting the market.
Moreover, with the market in the Keystone State being down 3% sequentially in the fourth quarter and the California market experiencing a 4%, as per Headset data, "stable sales sequentially is not bad," Cantor Fitzgerald's analyst Pablo Zuanic said in a recent note.
"The company began to benefit late in the quarter from the reset in PA - due to higher quality and higher potency flower - and was a top-three wholesaler" in the state in December, Zuanic added.
In the meantime, the New Jersey recreational cannabis market is gearing up to launch within weeks, and TerrAscend is positioned to seize the opportunity.
TerrAscend had two stores open in the Garden State during the quarter and its Lodi shop will likely open this month once all regulatory approvals are received.
While management expects New Jersey shops to generate $40 million in annual sales, Zunic said the company could start supplying 3rd party stores by April.
"The strategic decisions we made in Pennsylvania have resulted in the highest quality product we have ever sold in this market," Wild commented on the earnings report. "The actions undertaken in New Jersey have our team prepared for adult use, where we have one of the largest cultivation footprints in the state, along with three ideal dispensary locations."
And apparently, TerrAscend is showing no signs of slowing down.
It recently debuted The Apothecarium mobile retail app for Apple iOS devices, joining its industry peers such as Driven by Stem STMH STEM Emjay, TPCO Holding Corp. GRAM GRAMF, which is doing business as The Parent Company, Leafly, and Eaze which opted for the same move.
The recent appointment of Kara DioGuardi - songwriter, producer, record exec, actress, etc. to its board of directors is expected to be beneficial as “we integrate our business with Gage Cannabis and focus on increasing brand equity across our core markets,” Wild said recently.
Collaboration With NBA All-Star Chris Webber
Celebrity backing and endorsements are nothing new for Wild especially since he teamed up with Chris Webber, five-time NBA All-Star and founder of Webber Wellness, last year to launch the $100 million private equity Webber Wild Impact Fund with the goal of investing in “underrepresented entrepreneurs pursuing careers in the cannabis sector.”
“The foundation is geared towards helping with records expungement and job training, Wild explained, adding that there are “a lot of investors that want to invest in the fund because they think we’re going to make money.”
The Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference
The event will feature traditional keynotes, panel discussions, fireside chats, networking, company presentations as well as investor and celebrity appearances.
Check out the full lineup of amazing speakers here.
© 2022 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
Meet the biggest cannabis industry players and make deals that will push the industry forward.
Featuring live company presentations, insider panels, and unmatched access to networking, the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference is where cannabis executives and entrepreneurs meet.
Join us April 11-12, 2023 at Fontainebleau Miami Beach in sunny Florida.