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Legal cannabis is already the fastest growing industry in North America. North American cannabis sales jumped 30% in 2017, a repeat of 2016's stunning gain.
While that's impressive on its own, the pace of growth is about to accelerate due to a huge catalyst directly on the horizon. Canada has announced plans to legalize recreational cannabis by July 2018. That would make Canada the first developed country in the world to legalize both medical and recreational cannabis.
It's also set to unleash a multi-billion dollar industry. Cannabis sales are expected to be between $5 billion and $7 billion in the first 12 months after legalization. That would be between a 400% and 600% increase from Canada's 2017 numbers.
If you want to learn how you can potentially profit from this pot revolution, let me tell you about one of the most promising companies in Canada's high-growth cannabis market...
Aphria (TSE: APH) is an early leader in Canada's high-growth cannabis industry. With a market cap of $2.4 billion, Aphria is the second-largest cannabis company in Canada behind the $6.6 billion Canopy Growth Corp. (TSE: WEED).
Shares of Aphria are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol APH. Shares are also traded on U.S. OTC (over-the-counter) markets under the ticker symbol APHQF.
If there is one stock to own to profit from the cannabis revolution, Aphria is the choice. Let me explain...
Aphria Is Benefitting From A Legal Monopoly
Aphria won the cannabis lottery back in 2014 when it received an exclusive permit to grow and sell cannabis from Health Canada, the regulatory agency responsible for issuing permits.
At last count, more than 1,000 companies have applied for a license. But as it stands, Health Canada has only issued 93 permits -- and Aphria is one of the lucky recipients.
This exclusive permit gives Aphria two powerful and sustainable competitive advantages. First, it gives Aphria a huge head start on the competition. Second, it will protect Aphria from new competition.
Health Canada will issue more permits in the next few years. But it is deliberately restricting the number of permits to encourage young cannabis companies' profitability, as this will help to remove illegal cartels from the cannabis trade.
Aphria Is Constructing A 1 Million Square Foot Greenhouse
After securing its exclusive permit, Aphria quickly turned its attention to building one of the largest cannabis greenhouses in the world. The company's 1 million square foot, state-of-the-art cannabis greenhouse will be one of the largest in the world when completed.
The new facility will include:
-- 700,000 square feet of Dutch-style greenhouses.
-- 230,000 square feet of infrastructure, including new level 9 vaults.
-- Automation of the greenhouses, processing areas, and warehouse facilities.
-- Annual production capacity of over 150,000 lbs of cannabis.
This new greenhouse positions Aphria to be the No. 1 low-cost provider of cannabis in Canada -- and eventually the world, as it continues expanding into international markets.
The final phase of the project is projected to be completed this summer.
Aphria Is 1 Of Just 4 Canadian Cannabis Companies Expanding Internationally
While impressive in its own right, the Canadian cannabis market pales in comparison to the potential size of the global cannabis market. Some analysts are predicting the global cannabis market could be worth more than $75 billion, more than 10 times the size of Canada's.
Aphria is just one of four Canadian cannabis companies making moves to tap into this market. In August of 2016, Aphria announced it had signed a deal with Australian cannabis biotech Medlab Clinical (ASX: MDC) to supply dried cannabis for its clinical research programs. Medlab is developing cannabis-based pain medications for cancer patients.
Aphria is also expanding into the United States, the single largest and most valuable cannabis market in the world. As it stands, cannabis imports into the United States are still illegal. Aphria has found a way around this restriction by taking equity stakes in U.S.-based cannabis producers in Florida and Arizona, two promising cannabis markets.
These international relationships set the stage for Aphria to grow into a global leader with the lowest cost of production in the next five years.
Aphria On The Chart
It's been a wild ride for Aphria on the chart. Shares ripped higher in 2016, jumping more than 500%. But after hitting a new all-time high in early 2017, Aphria hit a nasty bear market, falling more than 50%.
But after bottoming out in early June of 2017, shares exploded more than 300%, hitting a high over $18 in January 2018. And although shares took a beating in February, Aphria has clear upward momentum. Even with its high P/E ratio, analysts rate Aphria a "buy" on average, and are targeting a price of $27.25.
Risks To Consider: Aphria and other Canadian cannabis companies have high P/E ratios. This says that investors are expecting big-time sales growth in the next few years. Although I expect that to happen, Aphria will need to deliver in order to keep its shares charging higher.
Action To Take: Aphria is an early leader in Canada's high-growth cannabis market and positioned to be a future global leader just like Budweiser and Marlboro. Buy shares below the all-time high, hold for the long haul and look for market-beating gains in the next five to 10 years.
Editor's Note: There are exactly 10 buy-and-hold stocks that can double your market gains in 2018... just as they have for the past three years. Click here for the full report.
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