Shares of the company surged 29% on Tuesday after it announced it had received approval to import marijuana to the U.S. for medical research. The stock has been targeted by short sellers in recent months, with some investors even comparing its near 800% share price rise since its July initial public offering at $17 to the bitcoin bubble.
In an interview in New York, reported on by Bloomberg, Kennedy admitted his surprise at the company’s current $14.4 billion market capitalization, but also stressed that he does not believe that Tilray, the largest pot stock, is overvalued. Instead, he argued that the company has all the ingredients to one day be among the biggest listed firms in the U.S. (See also: Tilray Shares Soar Defying Short-Sellers)
Those grand ambitions mean that Tilray has no interest in getting taken over by a large consumer group. During the interview, Kennedy said Tilray is keen on the market for cannabis consumer products, adding that he’s had “lots of conversations with lots of companies,” about making this happen. However, he also stressed that a buyout isn’t an option. “I don’t want to get bought by AB-InBev or Diageo, I want to be that company,” he said.
Kennedy’s comments reflect growing speculation that major drinks manufacturers are eager to invest in the cannabis industry. Since Constellation Brands Inc. (STZ.B) made a high-profile investment in Canopy Growth Corp. (CGC), several other beverage giants, including Coca-Cola Co. (KO) and Diageo (DEO), have been rumored to be lining up their own deals to enter the sector. (See also: Coca-Cola May Foray Into Cannabis-Infused Drinks)
In a separate interview with CNBC’s Mad Money, Kennedy encouraged alcohol makers to pour capital into companies such as Tilray, claiming that cannabis stocks represent a “global opportunity” and offer “a great hedge for them." The CEO also made a similar case for drug makers.
"Cannabis is a substitute for prescription painkillers, prescription opioids, and so if you're an investor in a pharmaceutical company or you're a pharmaceutical company, you have to hedge the offset from cannabis substitution."
Tilray formed a strategic alliance with Novartis (NVS) in March. In exchange for giving the Swiss healthcare firm a cannabis hedge, Novartis is obligated to help Tilray co-market and co-develop its products.