Cannabis operator Sundial Growers (NASDAQ:SNDL) stock has had a wild ride. Sundial was a hot stock in 2019, it went to almost zero in 2020, and then came roaring back amid the WallStreetBets excitement.
Sundial had a fairly underwhelming 2021 from a stock perspective, as shares slumped back under a dollar. The short squeeze traders had been banking on failed to materialize. Under the surface, however, there are actually still a lot of interesting things still going on with Sundial.
Sundial’s Yearly Progression
2019 was Sundial’s initial year of promise. Shares traded above $10 at one point as investors hoped that the firm’s cannabis growing operations would quickly gain market share and establish the firm as a leading upscale cannabis provider.
2020 was the year of failure. Sundial quickly made it clear that its cannabis-growing strategy had failed to reach its expectations. Both operational and branding issues combined to cause trouble; Canada’s vastly oversupplied marijuana market didn’t help matters either.
Last year was the year of transition. Thanks to Reddit and short squeeze traders, SNDL stock launched from the pennies to as high as $4. This gave the firm the opportunity to sell tons of new stock to the public. In doing so, Sundial paid off all its debt and ended up with a billion dollars of cash on top of that. Also in 2021, Sundial began making key acquisitions and investments that would reshape its future.
Now 2022 must be the year of execution. Sundial needs to integrate all its acquisitions and investments from 2021 and prove that the newly-redesigned company can be an operational giant in the crowded cannabis market. Sundial has made the right moves to give itself a fighting shot. However, judging by the stock price, most investors still don’t believe in the management team. Sundial has had enough time to reposition its business; this year, it must turn the potential into results.
Sundial’s New Look: Lending
The company has developed a two-prong approach to its revised business model. The first of these is its cannabis investment arm. In 2021, Sundial deployed nearly 500 million Canadian dollars in loans and investments in other marijuana firms.
This is an attractive field since it is so hard for many cannabis operators to get financing. In countries such as the U.S., large banks are reluctant to do business with marijuana companies. As such, third party lenders and financiers such as Sundial can step in and offer financing at high rates. The U.S. marijuana real estate investment trust (REIT) Innovative Industrial Properties (NYSE:IIPR) rallied from less than $20 per share years ago to $225 today using a similar model.
Sundial’s financing arm is still ramping up operations. As of yet, it hasn’t demonstrated a clear and repeatable level of profitability or return on investment. However, I’m optimistic that Sundial may be able to turn this into a solid line of business in due time. This year should give Sundial time to show some dividends from this endeavor.
Retail Operations of SNDL Stock
The other angle to Sundial’s new model is its retail business. Sundial made its biggest splash yet in late 2021 acquiring Alcanna, which operators liquor and marijuana stores in Canada. This came on top of a previous smaller deal to buy marijuana retail chain Spiritleaf.
The two of these combined are an interesting pairing. Alcanna long operated a successful cash flow generating liquor store operation primarily in the province of Alberta. Spiritleaf and Alcanna’s retail cannabis stores, by contrast, are newer and still getting up-to-speed in terms of generating profits and cash flow.
The foundation of Alcanna’s profitable liquor sales should give it the platform needed to internally grow its burgeoning network of cannabis shops. Meanwhile, this platform will give Sundial a large dose of revenues upfront, helping put some concrete financial results to paper as part of Sundial’s overall turnaround effort.
SNDL Stock Verdict
I’ve said it before and it’s worth repeating: Traders that own this just for a short squeeze may be disappointed. There are more than 2 billion shares of outstanding SNDL stock. Don’t let the low share price fool you; Sundial has a sizable market capitalization and is not particularly vulnerable to a short squeeze.
However, the evolution of Sundial’s underlying business has occurred with rapid speed over the past year. 2021 was a time of assembling Sundial’s new businesses. In 2022, Sundial will have the opportunity to demonstrate that its new investments can bear fruit. If so, SNDL stock could be a solid comeback trade in coming months.
On the date of publication, Ian Bezek did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
Ian Bezek has written more than 1,000 articles for InvestorPlace.com and Seeking Alpha. He also worked as a Junior Analyst for Kerrisdale Capital, a sizable New York City-based hedge fund. You can reach him on Twitter at @irbezek.