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2 Hugely Disappointing Stocks That Turned $10,000 Into Less Than $100 in Just 5 Years

Motley Fool - Thu Feb 22, 4:55AM CST

Growth stocks can provide investors with opportunities to generate life-changing returns. But unfortunately, it doesn't always turn out that way. And in some cases, it can go horribly wrong.

Two stocks that have been complete debacles for investors over the past five years are Aurora Cannabis (NASDAQ: ACB) and Canopy Growth (NASDAQ: CGC). These Canadian cannabis stocks would have nearly wiped out all of your money in just five years. Here's how little you would have left from a $10,000 investment.

Aurora Cannabis: $46

Aurora Cannabis has been an abysmal failure. But its global ambitions have always been large. Five years ago, the company issued a press release boasting that it had expanded into Portugal, which increased its footprint to 24 countries. Today, Aurora has scaled back and now says it is in 15 global cannabis markets.

The company expanded too quickly and into too many markets. The problem with the cannabis industry has always been that businesses have been overly eager and optimistic about the growth opportunities, with earnings and cash flow being put on the back burner.

Nowadays, however, it's the opposite. Companies are getting smaller and leaner, all for the sake of improving their financials. This month, Aurora posted its most recent results (for the last three months of 2023), and the headline was that its adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) hit a record 4.3 million Canadian dollars ($3.2 million).

Investors, however, haven't forgotten the company's underwhelming results in previous years, and improved adjusted earnings numbers aren't going to be enough to bring them back. Aurora still incurred a net loss of CA$25.2 million, and its quarterly revenue rose by just 5% to CA$64.4 million.

Aurora has lost more than 99% of its value over the past five years. While Chief Executive Officer Miguel Martin has tried his best at turning the business around, there's just not a compelling reason to believe the company will be in a better position in the future for the stock to be worth taking a chance on.

Canopy Growth: $80

With Canopy Growth, you'd be left with $80 if you'd invested $10,000 in the stock. You can buy a few more cups of coffee with your investment, but overall it's much the same story as it is with Aurora: trying to get too big, too fast. But unlike Aurora, Canopy Growth's focus has been more on the domestic market and expansion into the U.S. than it has been to be a global brand.

What has been disappointing to see is the company's endless pursuit of a U.S. market that quite simply isn't open for business. Unless Canopy Growth ditches the Nasdaq exchange and settles for over-the-counter exchanges, it won't be able to invest in U.S. cannabis companies (due to the federal ban on pot). And yet, in April, it has a vote scheduled for shareholders to approve its plans for Canopy USA, a special purpose vehicle that would house its U.S.-based cannabis investments.

The entity could theoretically hold U.S.-based cannabis investments, but they technically wouldn't be part of Canopy Growth and the cannabis producer wouldn't consolidate the results. I'm confident the point is to still tell investors the unofficial consolidated results of what Canopy Growth's business would look like if those companies were rolled into one entity. It's an exercise in accounting gymnastics that looks to just try and convince investors of the growth that's there but in reality isn't attainable anytime soon.

At least with Aurora, the company is working on pursuing realistic opportunities in European markets. And it has posted an adjusted EBITDA profit -- that's still a goal for Canopy Growth. For the last three months of 2023, it reported an adjusted EBITDA loss of a little less than CA$9 million.

Although you would technically have more money with an investment in Canopy Growth, its fixation on the U.S. market is what makes me believe it's on a worse path than Aurora.

For cannabis investors, these two stocks have offered painful lessons about investing hype and not results, and especially in the case of Canopy Growth and its efforts relating to Canopy USA, it's imperative not to fall for that again.

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David Jagielski has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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