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Tilray Jumps; Jefferies Double Upgrades on Link With Aphria

Tilray was upgraded to buy from underperform at Jefferies, which sees a 'perfect match' in its combination with Aphria.
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Tilray (TLRY) - Get Report shares were double-upgraded at Jefferies after shareholders approved the company's merger with fellow Canadian cannabis provider Aphria. 

The investment firm's analysts upgraded Tilray to buy from underperform while raising their price target to $23 a share from $4.77.

Analyst Owen Bennet called the pair a "perfect match."

"In Canada, a leading portfolio of brands" is supported by "an efficient cost structure. In Europe, the market is now picking up, while Tilray's scale and Aphria's unique German positioning make it perfectly suited to succeed," 

Bennet is expecting combined sales growing 33% between fiscal 2020 and fiscal 2024, leading to 2024 sales of $1.7 billion. 

Meanwhile, the average major Canadian-licensed producers are expected to generate $482 million annually in that period and U.S. multistate operators are expected to generate $1.6 billion. 

"And in the U.S. the combined company's broader consumer-goods portfolio and strong balance sheet supports excellent optionality around both U.S. [tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol]," Bennet said. 

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THC is the main active ingredient in marijuana. CBD is derived from the hemp plant, a relation of the marijuana plant. It's used in medical applications and doesn't create the high that marijuana does.

At last check Tilray shares were trading 7.7% higher at $15.24. They'd closed Thursday trading off 11% at $14.15.

Last month, Aphria shareholders voted to approve the two companies' plan to merge.

Read More: Aphria and Tilray Join Forces in Cannabis-Infused Mega Merger

Under the terms Tilray was to pay 0.8381 share for each Aphria share.

The C$5 billion (US$4 billion) merger creates the world's largest marijuana production and distribution company.

The combined company will have "a strong financial profile, low-cost production, market-share-leading brands, distribution network and unique partnerships," Aphria Chief Executive Irwin Simon said in a statement.

The combined company has 12-month annual sales of C$874 million (US$717 million).