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Transcript--->>> CEO Irwin Simon Presents at BMO Capital Markets

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Transcript--->>> CEO Irwin Simon Presents at BMO Capital Markets

Virtual 16th Annual Farm to Market Conference (Transcript)

May 20, 2021 11:27 AM ET
Tilray, Inc. (TLRY)

Tilray, Inc. (NASDAQ:TLRY) BMO Capital Markets Virtual 16th Annual Farm to Market Conference May 20, 2021 8:40 AM ET

Company Participants

Irwin Simon - Chief Executive Officer

Carl Merton - Chief Financial Officer

Conference Call Participants

Tamy Chen - BMO Capital Markets

Tamy Chen

Okay, great. All right. Let's get things started. So, welcome, everyone. My name is Tamy Chen, I am the Cannabis Analyst at BMO Capital Markets. This is the continuation of a Day Two Farm to Market and our Cannabis Truck, and with me today are, management from Tilray. So, I'll begin with a quick intro, and then we will get right into question.

So, after the recent completion of the merger between Aphria and Tilray, the pro forma Tilray entity reported pro forma revenues of about $100 million revenue in last quarter, pro forma, and just over $10 million in EBITDA. Company has a pro forma market cap of about $7 billion.

Company's asset network is quite expensive, consists of sizable greenhouses in Canada, manufacturing facility, as well as the premium indoor cultivation site, all in Canada; also a platform for medical cannabis cultivation and manufacturing in Portugal; an indoor grow facility ramping in Germany; a large pharmaceutical distribution business called CC Pharma; a US-based hemp branded foods business called Manitoba Harvest that also sell CBD products; and a US craft beer business, called SweetWater.

And with me today from management are CEO, Irwin Simon; and CFO, Carl Merton. Welcome.

Irwin Simon

Good morning.

Carl Merton

Thank you, Tamy.

Question-and-Answer Session

Q - Tamy Chen

Thanks for being here. Now, let's get right into our questions here. So, first, hoping where we can start-off with is telling the audience or recapping the key points of rationale for bringing together Aphria and Tilray.

Irwin Simon

So, there's lots of great reasons, and I think the industry has gone through its trials and tribulation, but consolidation is something from -- that had to happen from an inevitable standpoint.

And from a freest standpoint, after two years of nine consecutive quarters of EBITDA positivity and EBITDA growth, we felt the next big thing for us was to consolidate with whether another Canadian LP that other assets that complemented our assets.

We absolutely looked at lots of other opportunities, but the reason we felt good about Tilray, number one, their asset-like in Canada, which allow them to bring a lot of their grow into our Leamington facility. Number one, they also had a canning and inevitable line that helped us with capacity from that standpoint.

Number two is, as we combine the businesses together in Canada, would give us close to a 20% market share. My objective is to get to a 30% market share. And then, as we look at our European business, combining our German assets, their Portugal assets, their strength in medical, oils, medical cannabis, gave us a leading position in the medical position in Europe with CC Pharma, and with their other brands to distribute through CC Pharma.

And then last but not least, Manitoba Harvest, I think it's an asset that's got tremendous lakes and having a food background, there's a lot we would do with hemp and CBD within the food category. I think the biggest thing is, as you put these two companies together can be over $80 million of synergies will come from these two companies.

And with that by revenue -- with all our revenue, it allows us to be one of the largest cannabis companies in the world by revenue with a $7 billion market cap with a good flow, good liquidity and allows us to do lots of other things in M&A. So, we read domiciled to the U.S., change the name to Tilray and we're ready to go.

Tamy Chen

Great, perfect. And as I -- one thing that I definitely also want to touch on with respect to this combination is, as it came across in my intro. There's a lot of complexity, lot of assets, lot of different segments between the two businesses. So from an integration perspective, can you talk a bit about, everything that is going on behind the scenes to ensure that this is a smooth transition in all the different lines of business, and the different geographies, and achieving those synergies that you're talking about?

Irwin Simon

So -- good question. So we announced this deal, December 16th or 17th. We spent a lot of time when we got to the deal and economics. And why the deal made sense and the integration here. Since then, we've been working on the integration and first thing, putting together a strong management team, which we announced. Second, is looking at the brands, and what brands made sense. Third, is looking at the different business areas. So, number one, Canada will be run by Jim Meyer. So there's a Canadian business. There's a European business, which would be run by Denise Faltischek. There's a Manitoba Harvest business, which will be run by, Jared Simon, who just joined us. And then, Freddy Bench will run our SweetWater business.

So we've broken these down into different business units with the support of Carl and his team from a financial support, Dera and her team from a legal standpoint, a human resource standpoint, Rita Seguin, our Chief Human Resource. So number one is having a strong team in place.

Number two is, we used a third-party to help us here, and to help us stay on track in regards to the integration and they've been with us since December. And now as we push go, which we did on May 1st is making sure we keep track of those integrations.

So yes, there's a lot of good pieces. But we've announced some closures already. We've integrated business, integrate sales. And the key to this is move quickly and get things done.

Listen, we've all been forced with a closed down in Canada. We've been forced to close down Sydney. So it hasn't been easy to work around those either. But, we have a real good plan in place, and there's two plans in place. There's, the 100-day plan, once you close and how you start integrated. And then, what is our strategic plan over the next two to three years, how to get this to a 2-plus-billion dollar company with good positive cash flow.

Tamy Chen

Right. Got it, okay. Good. And so I want to jump a little bit to, actually a good segue, because you mentioned about the lockdowns and COVID. I definitely want to touch on this because as it happens with timing, last week a number of your Canadian competitors were reporting. And, the big commonality from everyone's comments was COVID lockdowns in some of the large Canadian provinces was really a headwind for that calendar Q1 quarter.

So, if you could give some comments on an update of how your business is going through the first quarter, or just COVID headwinds in general, maybe starting in Canada, and a bit I think in Europe as well?

Irwin Simon

Listen, you can't run away from when stores are closed. Again, there is that impulse sales. There's the introduction of new products. I think, the different provinces come out and said how they're down 25%, 30%. But, again, with the amount of products, the amount of brands we have, we have more opportunities than a lot of the smaller guys.

But on the other hand, we have to deal with COVID and that shows why you have to be a diversified company and not just rely on Canada, not just rely on Europe and rely on other products.

The other thing is, Tamy, which we're going to be ready for and I've had discussion with OCS and other, when this is over, what we have to do to start marketing to consumers, bring them back to the stores, bring them back to our brands.

And our limitations on advertising is limit, but we have to come out there and sort of push the envelope to make sure we educate consumers about our brands, our quality, our regulatory. A lot of the new stuff we're going to introduce.

So, again, you asked me before about the lead up with the acquisition and the integration. There's a big plan that we're going to do to push our brands, our products, our new products. Once the stores open back up and consumers allowed to go back into the stores, I think that's important to do, and us work with the additional control boards to do it.

Listen, the good news is, there'll be over 600 new stores in Ontario. Quebec, there's more and more stores opening, so there's more and more stores opened in Canada. And we'll have more and more products and more and more new products to be out there after this is over. And hopefully, it's over the first, second week of June. And there's tremendous, tremendous piped-up demand.

Tamy Chen

Got it. Okay. And I'm hoping that as well. And sticking with that, so, let's stick with Canada for a second here. Aphria is number one in the Canadian recreational market. You've done a good job there. Combined with Tilray, the market share in the recreational market, like you said, you're going to be holding about a 20% share, your goal is to get to 30%. I want to unpack that a bit more, because the Canadian market is competitive, still a number of players, going from 20% to 30%, a sizable jump so [Audio Gap]

Irwin Simon

…population -- say half the population could be cannabis users. It's continuously educating the consumers the benefits of cannabis, the benefit of branded cannabis, and why regulatory and the quality it goes through.

And we have to make some changes in Canada, have to make some changes in Health Canada, the way we can market to consumers, and not out there blasting the airways, let's go out and enjoy a pre-roll, let's go out there and enjoy a vape, but the benefits the health benefits.

I think, it's important too where consumers have not been going to clinics and doctors and they’d be going back to the stores and walking into a store and getting advice there. So there's a lot of marketing we have to do on education, there's a lot of marketing we have to do on our brands, there's a lot of innovation that we have to do.

And the good news is, it's going into its third year of legalization, but the Canadian market has to change. And that's where, as the leader and that's where I have to do, is be out there trying to lobby and trying to get to Health Canada that allows us to be a little more liberal in what we can say to consumers and how we can educate consumers about our products.

Tamy Chen

Right. And I think, the review -- the federal review of the regulation has open now, So, hopefully that that is kind of an opportunity to get some changes.

Irwin Simon

While there's federal legalized, there's a whole thing about packaging what you can say, in regards to, can you come up with a standard potency, et cetera. So, I mean, listen Canada was first, and they should take the credit for it. And I will tell you, there's a lot of tax dollars that's coming from the cannabis industry.

There's a lot of jobs that come from the cannabis industry and government got to realize this and I think it's really important from the standpoint here. If not, one day as legalization happens in the US, we don't want to lose what we have in Canada. And what we built in Canada to the US market.

Tamy Chen

Right. Got it. Okay. I also want to – so I think it is an important aspect when investors think about the P&L is before the merger, Aphria was one of the very few companies in Canada that was consistently reporting positive EBITDA. For investors that maybe a bit new to the story and looking at all these different participants in the industry, can you talk a bit about what – how the company has been able to achieve that, which is sort of it is a rarity in the space. There's something about the production processes, there's something about the assets, if you can unpack that a bit there.

Irwin Simon

Carl, you want to take that?

Carl Merton

Sure. I think there's a couple of key things, Tamy. From the very beginning we've had an intense focus on the concept of revenue before costs, and we've been very careful as we grew to make sure that we had the revenue to support things before we made investments. But overall, I think it's really, it's an operational mindset that we adopted from the very beginning and was greatly reinforced when Irwin came in and joined the organization and pushed us even harder towards those items.

We've been very careful about how we create cost structures in the organization. We built the facilities in a way to be one of the low cost producers and we continue to work to pull more and more costs out of that structure every day to remain as efficient as possible to be able to offer the pricing at what the markets moving to. And so it's really – it's a complete company mindset from the very beginning.

Tamy Chen

Got it. Got it.

Irwin Simon

And I think Tamy, here is the big thing. I think, as I said, the industry is three years old. And what do we say, it's a $9 billion industry at retail in Canada. And there's numbers that been thrown out, but what are the real numbers, what should the cost be. And then we have 2.5 million square feet of gross space.

I mean, and again, you said it before, prices are coming down, and prices met is something that matters here. And that is key for us to get these processed, to get these structures in place. And if anybody can grow good quality cannabis at a low cost, it's going to be Tilray with Aphria Diamond and Aphria 1.

And that's the big thing that I've worked on and I'm a big driver of cash and free cash and as Carl knows, and he said that is very quickly. How did we get away and cut away from all these money losing investments and businesses that we're in. And we're pretty well there and that's the big thing as we put together these two companies, positive free cash, and how do we get to good sizeable EBITDA, if we can get to that $2-plus billion market sales with a combined company.

But – and again, if you think about it, how many companies out there today are making $80 million of EBITDA combined or taking $80 million of cost, so just with the Tilray acquisition along with Tilray could earn, that’s up.

Q – Tamy Chen

Right. Got it. Okay. Great. So I want to start transitioning to talking about the US. And the way, I'm going to pivot there is, there's one question that -- when I speak with investors about Tilray. One of the things that is discussed is; one, how we got to number one player status in the Canadian market? I think investors think about track record and then thinking about how the pro forma Tilray entity can do or the right to win in the US market. So, if you could first sort of talk a bit about how in Canada, you manage to go to number one, even though you were on a relative basis compared to some of the other companies entering the market a little bit later?

Irwin Simon

So again, as I said before, what I want to build with Tilray -- the new Tilray is a consumer packaged goods business in the cannabis space. Built around lifestyle, built around a healthy living, whether it's adult use, whether it's medical, whether it's drink, whether it's food, whether it's personal care products and focus on good quality products and that's how you build consumer brands. I did that before with food and personal care products and that's very much the strategic plan of what we want to do here. And that's how we built out our brands.

Like when you come back and look at risk good supply, Broken Coast, and you get brands that are three years old and a retailer a couple $100 million -- how long it takes to get a brand to a couple $100 million, it takes years and we were able to do that in a very quick way with new products, with getting distribution out there and having good quality products.

So, with that we have to take that game into the playbook and use that in the US, but there's a lot more complications in the US, okay. First of all, it is not legal in US from a federal standpoint. We are going to stay on NASDAQ, so we're going to keep our NASDAQ listing, so we're not going to go outside. And there's been other companies out there that have gone and bought options and where they had no involve, no say, just an option of what's going to happen here.

So number one is, what we've done in the US today is with SweetWater, it's a great brewery for '20, it’s a very profitable business. There's Manitoba Harvest, which is a great business. These businesses we're going to look at of how we parlay that into a THC business once legalization happens.

But I will tell you, as we sit here today, we are looking at multiple options of how we're going to be in the US market. It is the biggest market out there. I think, again, what are the issues? Is it going to be a one tier system, two tier system, three tier system? I was in LA last week doing a bunch of stores and when you walk into a store today like you do in Ontario, you want to see multiple brands, you don't want to see just, beyond the stores own brand there and you want to see multiple products in that.

Is it going to report into TFF which, again from the alcohol, tobacco and taxation, you can't own retail and be a producer and be a distributor at the same time? So, there's still a lot unknown. And Tamy, if the SAFE Bank Act passes, yes, you can bank, but does that mean it's legal. So there's a lot of unknown out there. And again, we're doing a lot of investigation on structures. But -- and if you think about us, what we bring to the party will be, number one in Europe, number one in Canada, have a good foothold in the US. So, we're going to be that global company and it's something we are just all over and trying to figure out what's the right way to do it.

And I think, again, if you come back and look at a lot of the US companies, they're envy of us because of our market cap, our volume on a trade -- every day the trades. But on the other hand, I'm envious of them because look at their growth numbers that they're having in one of the biggest markets in the US and I can't do that right now.

So, maybe both of our envies will come together and do something, one day that's going to make our shareholders a lot of money, and get a much higher price in $16 a share that you think we're worth.

Tamy Chen

Got it. Well, actually along those lines, I want to maybe throw a question or kind of challenge because I really want to hear your perspective on this. And I think a lot of investors think about this too. Is that, the conventional thinking is, specifically on US -- like you said. You can't get in directly right now unless you want to de-list yourself from NASDAQ, TSX, et cetera, which you don't want to do. You don't want to be involved in what's -- still a federally illegal business directly.

Irwin Simon

Yes.

Tamy Chen

So, you can't get in directly, but you've got these operators in the US that have the P&L and the growth that they're doing. They're saying that this first mover advantage translates into eventually entrenched brands or whatever it is that they feel is going to be entrenched.

And then the thinking goes then that when the federal barriers do fall away and Tilray can’t get it and that it's, a race that you're too far behind on. What's wrong with that, sort of, thinking? It's too simplistic. What are people missing there? How do you think about it?

Irwin Simon

So, number one, again, I don't think we're too far -- we will be too far behind. Because, listen, we have a lot of knowledge on grow through our Canadian operations, we have a lot of knowledge on medical through our European operations and we have a strong balance sheet, so we're going to bring something to the party.

So, if there's number two or number three in the US that we team up with, very easy, I think, in that combination, there's an opportunity with our strengths to have the ability to push that to be a number one.

Is there the right option out there for us to look at today? And the thing is, it's great to do an option, but again, there's none of the profits or anything that we can derive that back into Tilray from flower so do I want to tie-up shareholders money, where I'm getting no benefit from. And listen, I think, everyday I hear about a new bill being passed by different senators in different aspects of a bill. So, we're there looking in multiple ways.

The other thing Tamy is what shareholders and nobody should overlook is Europe. Because, I think, Germany, Portugal, lots of other Malta, I think, there's other parts of Europe, Israel that will see legalization before the US sees legalization and we are positioned there. So, I think, there's -- if you come back, and you may say, I'm biased, but I think there's envious of a lot of cannabis companies out there, you got a good business in Europe, you got a good business in Canada, yes, you have business in U.S., we have a strong balance sheet, and we have great trading, great liquidity in our stock, we're a NASDAQ traded company. A lot of these companies today that are just U.S. eccentric are landlocked here. And by the way, they might just spend all this money on grow facilities or greenhouses, but they might not be able to do that or they don't know the future.

So I think we're in a real envious position. And I think when legalization does happen everybody keeps saying, it's going to be too expensive. Yeah, maybe it is going to be too expensive for the number one. But again, we don't know that if they're landlocked and they got grow and distributions and they can't keep that. So I think that's why we're in a good position, but we do need to find the right opportunity for us to have a foothold in a bigger way in the U.S. market. And I will tell you we're all over that.

Tamy Chen

Okay. Sounds good. Since you mentioned that I want to -- I do want to talk about Europe, a little bit more. I think it's a region where at least when I speak to investors is a little less understanding of all the ins and outs than in Canada or the U.S. So if you don't mind just going through the combination of what the standalone Tilray had in Portugal, and what Aphria had, which was you had – you're ramping a facility in Germany, you've also got CC Pharma. How does that combine together give the pro forma Tilray entity, the advantage in same market like Germany, where there's four more players coming in, it's a very traditional pharmaceutical market, you got to speak with doctors, et cetera. So, what's the advantage that pro forma Tilray have there?

Brendan Kennedy

So, number one, we have facilities today that we built and spent the money in Germany, and Portugal and made the commitment there. You don't see that and don't have -- no one else has that type of facilities and have invested the capital that we have. So that's number one.

Number two, if you come back and look what we can grow there from an EU GMP certification, we have plenty of capacity to grow to distribute throughout Europe. If you come back and look at CC Pharma, CC Pharma today is a profitable business selling medications to 13,000 drugstores in Germany. But with that, through that distribution system, they'll be able to sell products, medical cannabis into all the drugstores within the German market. And you got to remember, the German market is 16 million people. I mean twice the size of Canada and has tremendous opportunity there.

So I think we're well-positioned with two facilities. I think we're well-positioned in regards to grow products. We have tenders. We have five tenders that we've won in Germany. And with that we also have product lines that product that we can sell from Canada into Europe still. We have brands that will look to bring over there from our Canadian brands.

And again, I'm looking to grow our business to $1 billion in size from a medical standpoint in the European market and I think there's some big opportunities. And I think, like I said before, we're there. It's not like today in South America. We have some small things in Argentina. We have some small things in Colombia. We really don't have growth facilities.

But we're well, well, well entrenched into the European market. And if you look at total Europe, its 600 million people and it's twice the size of the US and much bigger than Canada. So there's a big market for us to be participating in. And again, what it does great, Tamy, is a global cannabis company that allows us to grow our brands on a global basis.

Carl Merton

I think there's -- if I can just add one thing to that to what Irwin said, Tamy, I think the other thing to consider is that the European market, because it's more medical focused and pharmaceutical focused and you have a lot more reimbursement of the purchases.

And when you look at the data in Canada and the US, when people are paying out of pocket, versus people who are being reimbursed, there's almost a 3x difference in consumption that we see on a daily basis.

And so, as we will expand into these markets that are more focused on reimbursement and have reimbursement models, we think consumption increases on a per capita basis as well.

Tamy Chen

Right, yes. Yes, for sure. Okay. Great. Final, few minutes here, I want to ask this so, Irwin, you come from the -- like you said, right from the CPG background, I wanted to hear your thoughts on this.

So, at this point now, are you seeing more big CPG companies circling around, looking actively at cannabis? And then, specifically, for Tilray, how do you think about partnerships in general. Is that something that you would think about? Is it not something that you would think about?

Irwin Simon

So, I'll step back. Listen, the whole cannabis world is $100 billion industry in size. And there's cannibalization from alcohol. There's cannibalization from certain medicines.

And if you come back and look at millennials today and we study Israel, even though medical is legal there, what percent of the population still uses cannabis today. If you look in Florida, it's only medical that's legal, but you look who's using it for multiple reasons.

If I come back and said, this year the big companies, whether it's Diageo, Unilever, Nestlé, P&G, the Coca-Colas, the Pepsis of the world, as everybody looks for growth, and if you're not looking at the cannabis industry, then you're missing out on an industry that's going to have tremendous growth.

You had Altria, Constellation, BAT jump in before the industry even got started. So absolutely, there is the big companies that are looking at this year. And I think, again, as they look at it, until legalization happens, I think, no different than myself, I think, no one wants any delisting or any issues from a regulatory -- from that standpoint. So, if the legalization happens, you're going to see a lot of these big companies to be a part and get in there.

At the same time, from a partnership standpoint, do we need a partner? No. From a financial standpoint, no. But absolutely, we'd look at strategic partnerships to help us with product development, help us with distribution, help us to grow our business from an international standpoint. I did that at Hanes. I did that in other places. And I would look for the right partnership here too, and I think they're available to us.

Tamy Chen

Got it. Okay. Great, helpful. Okay. So we've got just the last minute or two. So I'll wrap it up here with kind of an ending question on bringing it back to more kind of near-ish-term. If we think over the next couple of quarters, over the next year, so, what are the big things? Whether it's in Canada or a catalyst maybe in the US or in Europe, what are the key one to two things or even three things that get you most excited about the trajectory for Tilray?

Irwin Simon

So, number one, I got to tell you when I came into this industry, I didn't know what to expect. And I got to be more excited about the industry than I ever have about the growth opportunities in so many facets. And I think it's the whole education. It's not about smoking weed and marijuana. It’s cannabis for adult use that gives you enjoyment, number one.

Number two is, it's now about a global growth. It's now about brands and products. And with that, I mean – I first come in here, and I said to myself, what happens I tell people I run a cannabis company, and I got to be picked up this board, picked up that board. It's accepted today. It's a big part of everybody's life.

The second thing is, listen, I really feel good about where Tilray is, because I think the opportunities with the new Tilray and Aphria coming together, I think – like I said before, with our brands, with our ability to make money, with the synergies that we'll get from Tilray, with our global platform.

And listen, I wish I sat here today with a better plan on US. And, I've lived in the US for 40 years. I built the $3.5 billion business there, so I've done it. There's a lots of regulations that stops us. But I got to tell you, I've never been more excited about an industry with a growth opportunity where you're going after millennials, baby boomers, the medical industry. There's so many categories to go do it.

And the other hand is, you know what – we're doing some good things. I met with this doctor the other day and he – we’re talking about epilepsy and what has changed patients' lives, where they were having a 100 seizures a day, and now they're down to either none or one or two.

So it's not just about enjoying cannabis to get yourself in a good mood or a place like that. I'm really excited about the medical opportunities and the benefits that will help so many patients in that, and help so many people from the standpoint they're.

Tamy Chen

Perfect. I think that's a great place to leave it, and we just got into the time limit here. So, I think we'll leave it there. So I want to thank you Irwin and Carl, both for joining us today and for going through the pro forma Tilray story with me and with the listeners. Thank you.

Irwin Simon

Thank you very much, Tamy.

Carl Merton

Thanks for having us.

Irwin Simon

Bye-bye.

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