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JP Morgan Jumps Onto Marijuana Stock Bandwagon with GW Pharmaceuticals

JP Morgan Jumps Onto Marijuana Stock Bandwagon
PHOTO Rafael Matsunaga

Economics

JP Morgan Jumps Onto Marijuana Stock Bandwagon with GW Pharmaceuticals

Major investment bank backs cannabis-related stock, but don’t get too excited — you probably already knew about the company they’ve cosigned.

The time to buy stock in GW Pharmaceuticals, the UK-based company that produces FDA-approved cannabinoid-based medicines to treat epilepsy and other diseases, was in late 2014, when shares in the company were trading at around $80.

Or maybe it was late 2016, when share prices were closer to $40. Or better yet, way, way back in 2013, when nobody knew who the company was or whether its medicine would work or whether this whole marijuana legalization thing was a good idea at all… nobody but the very smart investors who scooped up shares in the company for under $10.

But for latecomers to the cannabis stock game, 2018 was certainly far from the ideal time to pick up shares from GW. “Mad Money”-fueled cannabis-stock fever catapulted shares in GW to above $150, only for the infatuation to cool off, the mob to move onto the next shiny thing and shares to tumble below $100 again. But it’s not all bad news: GW stock and the accompanying rollercoaster ride are actually worth investing in, according to one America’s main investment banks, which last week bought into GW Pharm in a big way: On Wednesday, Cory Kasimov, an analyst with JP Morgan, predicted the stock is undervalued by 32 percent.

One Small Step for GW, One Giant Leap for Cannabis-Related Stocks

This prediction is noteworthy for two reasons. One, it’s good news for what used to be the biggest blue-chip stock in the marijuana sector, at least before Canada entered the fray and before legacy companies like tobacco giant Altria and alcohol behemoths Constellation Brands and Molson Coors made marijuana moves. And two, even though GW is not a marijuana company per se, having the imprimatur of very big banks like JP Morgan is a significant step forward for cannabis-related stocks which, not long ago at all, were treated like toxic properties by skeptical and leery institutional investors.

“In our view, [GW] is a clear leader in the field of cannabinoid science and drug development, now with two regulatory approvals (Epidiolex and Sativex) under its belt, a respectable pipeline of additional assets across an array of therapeutic indications, and a proprietary research/manufacturing platform that should enable it to sustain further growth,” Kasimov wrote in a note to investors, according to MarketWatch.

Until now, probably the most significant endorsement for the marijuana sector from traditional finance was from Cowen. Like JP Morgan, Cowen is a New York-based investment bank. Unlike Cowen, JP Morgan is the America’s biggest bank by assets managed, with a stock price nearly 10 times higher.

In marking GW Pharmaceuticals as undervalued, JP Morgan isn’t breaking any paradigms. The bet may even be off. We still don’t really know if GW has more patented medicines coming along, or what the market is for its current lineup, which is (frankly) limited. But the important takeaway here is the news is that very big legacy banks are finally realizing what those early GW buyers have known for years: invest in cannabis companies now and expect to see green in the long run.

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