Mr. Toad may have had a wild ride. I bet even Mr. Toad has never seen anything like this. Tilray (TLRY) - Get Report , the Canadian cannabis producer that every one of you has now looked at with awe, debuted on the Nasdaq stock market in July in an IPO priced at $17. Seems reasonable.
Yesterday, the shares closed for the day at $214.06, up 38% for the regular session, after being halted five times. In between 14:30 ET and the closing bell at 16:00 ET, these shares traded as high as $300.00, and as low as $151.40. My guess is that in the days of an open-outcry, two-sided, ongoing-auction market at a centralized point of sale, this name would probably have traded in a significantly smaller range on the day... but who am I to judge?
I truly feel for the short sellers. I really do not know what I would have done if I were short this name. Was this a tempting short over the preceding few days? I would say yes, it was. Fortunately, I never short equity. (That's a lie, I have shorted Tesla (TSLA) - Get Report several times).
If I feel negatively on an issue, I will generally purchase puts with strike prices and expiration dates that I find acceptable. This will allow for upside (for your P/L) on downside (for the stock in question) at an already defined level of risk. Too easy, it would seem.
Short sellers, though, are a confident breed. They have to be, and they do not want to see the time premium of a purchased option play erode like it does... so they open themselves up to both sizable gains and sizable losses. What you saw yesterday in TLRY was almost certainly a short squeeze of epic proportions.
Trying To Trade this Space
The most recent catalyst for the Canadian cannabis industry was Tuesday's news that Tilray had received approval to import a medical cannabis-based product into the U.S. for clinical testing. The targeted condition is a neurological disorder known as "Essential Tremor" that largely impacts folks older than 65 years of age, and is most evident in the involuntary shaking of one's hands.
The hope here is that if there is evidence of an improved condition for those afflicted, perhaps cannabis-based products might be useful in combating an entire host of neurological ailments. On top of that, recreational use of cannabis goes legal across Canada at the federal level on October 17.
Do I think the space worthy of investment? Yes, I do. TheStreet'sStocks Under $10 portfolio, which I run along with Chris Versace, holds long positions in this space. That said, no, I do not believe in investment at any valuation -- and one thing is obvious, the mechanism for rational price discovery, at least in Tilray, appears to be irrational at the moment.
Other well-known plays in this space would be Canopy Growth (CGC) - Get Report , the benefactor of that large investment made by Constellation Brands (STZ) - Get Report in August. That is partially what kicked off this round of the marijuana investment mania, as potential investors such as Diageo (DEO) - Get Report , Phillip Morris (MO) - Get Report , Molson Coors (TAP) - Get Report and Coca Cola (KO) - Get Report have all been mentioned in print somewhere as at least showing interest in one Canadian cannabis producer or another.
Other names in the space drawing interest would be Cronos Group (CRON) - Get Report and Aurora Cannabis (ACBFF) . Be cognizant of the fact that every one of these companies is currently running with negative cash flows. If you get long, you are buying growth potential, not value and not performance.
Aurora happens to be my favorite, as it has the least downside due to its low market price, But be aware there, that the float is large -- at more than 900 million shares, where at least until the lock-up expires the float for TLRY is a mere 17.8 million shares. This means that 177% of TLRY's entire float traded yesterday. Let that sink in. My imperfect math has the lock-up date sometime in February for those interested.
Trade Idea: Tilray
For those flat TLRY, there is no way I see that a trader might intelligently initiate on either side today. For the investor who might be long at least 100 shares, December $290 calls went out priced at $50 last night. Earnings are due November 27. Reducing your net basis by 50 clams while creating no increase to principal risk? That does not sound too bad to me.
I would not write naked calls nor naked puts against this name. Too volatile. The retail investor, I think, needs to look at the cheaper names that have not yet signed a production deal with an American large-cap. That investor might also want to wait for a dip, because one would think that this trader will get a turn at bat.
(A longer version of this column appeared at 7:49 a.m. ET on Real Money, our premium site for active traders. Click here to get great columns like this from Stephen "Sarge" Guilfoyle, Jim Cramer and other experts throughout the market day.)