Cannabidiol, referred to as CBD, is a chemical compound found in hemp, a close relative of the cannabis plant. Unlike marijuana, it doesn't have the same psychoactive properties so it won't provide a high for users. Instead, CBD affords a wide range of health benefits, from reducing anxiety to easing pain and improving sleep. About 64 million Americans have already tried CBD, according to Consumer Reports.
As the cannabis sector expands its reach, and with CBD becoming increasingly mainstream, a broad array of beverages, foods and cosmetics companies are diving into the market. The U.S. Natural Products Association reports that more than 1,500 CBD-related products were released over the last three years.
The result: the CBD industry has the potential to become a $22 billion business by 2022, according to Cannabis-focused research firm, Brightfield Group. Three companies from different corners of the CBD market look to be in a position to fly high:
Shares of GW Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:GWPH), which currently offers the only FDA-approved drug derived from CBD, have skyrocketed almost 83% this year. The stock closed at $177.99 on Wednesday, giving it a market cap of around $5.5 billion.
The biotech firm delivered better-than-expected first-quarter earnings on May 6, as sales of its CBD-derived anti-epilepsy Epidiolex drug, which gained FDA approval in June 2018, soared past forecasts.
The company brought in revenue of $39.2 million in just the three months ending March 31, rising a whopping 1,200% from $3 million in revenue from the same period a year earlier. Epidiolex — the drug behind the company’s revenue surge — had sales totaling $33.5 million in the first quarter, which more than doubled consensus forecasts of $16 million.
GW also reported positive phase-three trial results for the drug in treating another rarer form of epilepsy. The company plans to submit a supplemental application for FDA approval in the fourth quarter of 2019.
The U.K.-based healthcare firm also announced it will launch Epidiolex in five major European markets by the end of the year, a development which could see sales increase significantly in the coming years.
Molson Coors (NYSE:TAP), became the first major beverage company to enter the CBD space when it announced plans to develop CBD-infused beverages in August 2018.
The Denver-based brewer set up a joint venture with Canadian cannabis grower, Hexo (NYSE:HEXO), (TSX:HEXO), to create a partnership “to pursue opportunities to develop non-alcoholic, cannabis-infused beverages for the Canadian market.” The joint venture, known as Truss, sees Molson hold a majority 57.5% stake, while Hexo owns the rest.
That makes the North American beer giant well placed to take a meaningful share of the Canadian CBD soft drink market when edibles and infused beverages become legal there on October 17. The CBD beverage market in Canada is estimated to be worth around $2.2 billion, according to Mark Hunter, president, and CEO of Molson Coors.
The U.S. cannabis beverage market, meanwhile, is projected to be worth $1.4 billion by 2024, according to recent estimates. As it stands, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibits adding CBD to foods and beverages, though efforts to reschedule the chemical compound as a legal food supplement have lately been gathering pace.
Shares, which closed at $57.43 last night, are up roughly 3% so far this year.
Ulta (NASDAQ:ULTA), one of the most popular beauty retailers in the U.S., announced plans in mid-March to start carrying a variety of CBD-infused skin-care products for the first time.
The cosmetics giant currently offers five products from Cannuka, which blends CBD with manuka honey, online and in all of its stores except for Nebraska, Idaho, and South Dakota, where CBD is still outlawed. The products are aimed at both men and women.
Shares of the cosmetics giant, which are up around 38% in 2019, ended at $337.48 yesterday, not far from an all-time high of $359.69 reached on April 17.
Despite the strong gains racked up since the start of the year, the stock looks set for further appreciation as more consumers turn to CBD-infused wellness products. Jefferies analysts estimate that the CBD beauty market could reach $25 billion in the next ten years, accounting for 10-15% of the global skincare market.
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