Aurora Cannabis Inc.'s chief executive says his company is back on track for success, after spending last year fixated on a dramatic restructuring involving hundreds of layoffs and several facility closures.
"Calendar 2020 was a difficult year," admitted CEO Miguel Martin on a Thursday call with analysts.
"We made some tough decisions and faced several challenges … yet by the fall, we formulated and introduced a new strategy, and I know I speak for our entire team when I say we're thrilled to be back on offence."
Martin's comments came as he marked roughly six months at the helm of the Edmonton-based cannabis company. Those months were spent streamlining Aurora's operations and adapting to evolving consumer demands.
With much of Aurora's restructuring complete, Martin said he is now focused on finding opportunities for growth and creating an economic model that balances where the industry is today with where it's going.
"The goal of the plan is simple: drive revenue for mostly premium products over variable production costs and significantly lower fixed costs," he said.
"The upshot will be higher margins, stronger cash flow and long-term shareholder returns, and having our financial house in order, in my opinion, will attract new business and lead to untold opportunity."
Some of that opportunity is likely to come from the U.S., where a new Democratic government is in favour of legalizing cannabis and instituting policies that will help pot companies access more capital.
Cannabis stocks have rallied in response to that support and pot companies have begun looking at opportunities for how they can creep into the U.S. market should federal legalization occur.
Martin intends to get in on the action, but wouldn't say much about Aurora's strategy across the border.
"I will not commit to how we will gain exposure to the current U.S. THC market, but I can say we won't simply wait for comprehensive legislation and that we are assessing ways to legally advantage our shareholders today in addition to when comprehensive legislation is in place," he said.
Until the U.S. legalization landscape becomes more clear, Martin will continue to focus on strengthening Aurora's San Rafael, Daily Special, Drift and Woodstock brands.
He'll also have to deal with a $292.8 million loss he announced Aurora incurred in its most recent quarter.
The second quarter loss was much lower than the $1.3 billion loss it reported in the same quarter a year ago, and amounted to $1.74 per share, compared with a loss of $14.16 per share in the previous year.
Analysts on average had expected a loss of 25 cents US per share for the period ended Dec. 31, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.
Aurora said its net revenue reached $67.6 million, up from $55.1 million a year ago.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 11, 2021.
Companies in this story: (TSX:ACB)
Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press