Rubicon Organics Inc.

Q1 2024 Earnings Conference Call


spk04: Good morning everyone. Welcome to Ribicon Organics' first quarter-ended March 31, 2024 Financial Results Conference Call. As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded on May 16, 2024. At this time, all participants are in a lesson-only mode. Following the presentation, we will conduct the question and answer session. Instructions will be provided at that time for research analysts to queue up for questions. Before we begin, I will refer you to slide two of our presentation, which contains Ribicon's caution regarding forward-looking statements and non-GAP measures. Today's presenters will be Margaret Boaty, CEO, and Janice Rissven, CFO. I will now turn the call over to Margaret Boaty for the presentation.
spk05: Thank you and good morning everyone. Today, I will provide an update on Rubicon Organics and the performance in Q1, 2024, highlighting our progress as a leader in the Canadian cannabis market and discuss our growth plans for 2024. Despite a seasonably soft Q1, Rubicon delivered continued market share successes on the strength and quality of our leading premium brand portfolio. We now enter Q2 with a significant opportunity to grow our business and extend our premium market share leadership through our first entry into the $800 million Canadian Vape category with our high quality, true to flower, full flavor forward, full spectrum extract resin vapes launching this week. As evidenced in our premium edibles portfolio launched through 2023, which quickly captured the number one overall premium edible market share position with 31 percent in March of 2024, our leading brand reputation creates consumer excitement around new Rubicon products and our leading quality in terms of consumers become repeat buyers. We have achieved significant accomplishment in Q1, 24, as our premium brand portfolio regains the number one premium market position in Canada across all categories, including a market share of 7.1 percent of premium flower and pre-roll. In the overall Canadian cannabis flower and pre-roll market, we hold 2 percent overall market share position as we continue to grow our strength across other categories, leveraging the power of our leading premium brand portfolio, where in the first quarter we delivered almost 31 percent share of the topical market and a meaningful 23 percent of premium edibles, ending the quarter, as I mentioned, with upward momentum delivering 31 percent share of premium edibles in the month of March. In Q1, 24, we delivered 8.9 million in net revenue and 2.2 million in gross profit before fair value adjustments with an adjusted EBITDA of negative 400,000 owing to our E- -R-P system investment. We have invested in working capital for our new product launches impacting our rolling operating cash flow, reducing it to 4 million in the 12 months to March 31, 24. We achieved a significant milestone on May 3rd when our growth potential and strong presence in the Canadian market was recognized by Advisor Shares ETF YOLO, our first ETF investment. Our largest growth driver in 2024 is expected to be the launch of our 1964 full spectrum extract resin vapes. In 2023, the vape category was an 800 million dollar market and the fastest growing significant segment in the Canadian market. Rubicon is debuting our vape line with our best-selling and consumer-loved cultivars, Comatose and Blue Dream, and we are leveraging our premium brand strength and quality reputation to seize our fair share of this significant category. We are excited to announce the introduction of our premium flower into vape format. The successful launch of our 1964 edibles in 23 can be attributed to the brand's solid reputation. Unlike edibles, where experience is largely based on ingredient flavor, vape quality relies directly on the caliber of the input flower. This gives us reason to believe that our vape line will resonate with customers benefiting from our brand recognition and reputation for high quality products. We have made our first delivery to the BC distributor and expect to have our initial purchase orders for Ontario and Alberta delivered by the end of May. Products will then be available for consumers in stores within a couple of weeks. By the end of 2024, we plan to have over four 510 vape products in each of these markets. We estimate that in 2025, this could generate growth over 20% on our 2023 net revenue. The vape category is large and growing. Between 2021 and 2022, it grew 29% and on that base, it grew another 18% in 2023. The vape market is particularly popular with Gen Z and Millennials, who make up .8% of all US cannabis sales and 71% of all vape sales in 2022. In Canada, the flower, pre-roll and vape segments are the three dominant categories within the cannabis market, which collectively make up 85% of total 2023 sales. Vape is the third largest category at 16%, but as I mentioned, that was the strongest growth. We expect the vape category to grow to approach 30% and mirror established US markets, such as California, where it is 27% and Colorado, where it is 29%, according to headset data for 2023. The strength of our premium brands has given us the platform to expand our product lines and in Q1 2024, we continue to launch new products under each of our flagship brands, with some examples as follows. For Simply Bear Organic, a super premium cannabis brand targeting the cannabis connoisseur, we launch new and novel genetics, such as our organic power mints, and we delivered our first ever organic live rosin soft gels into market. Under 1964, we launched two additional flavors of live rosin gummies, following with the initial success of our premium edible portfolio, which grew to .5% market share during the quarter, of .5% from 14% share in Q4 2023, and contributing to Rubicon Earning, the number one overall market share position in the Canadian premium edible category. For the month of March 2024, we ended with the market share of 31%. In addition, we put our first cured indica resin into the market with Gelato 41 and sought a little brand attention and fun with our 1964 poutine sauce launched first in Quebec. Our flagship wellness brand Wildflower, dominance continues in the topical category with 31% market share, increasing from 17% in Q1 23, and increased our offerings of the minor cannabinoid products with the addition of our THC live rosin, vegan and gluten-free gummies into a 30 pack and the entry into the oil category for the first time with Sweet Dreams Oil. New genetics are vital for leadership in the premium cannabis industry and are important for consumers in leading premium cannabis brands to address emerging market trends. Our strategy is to launch new and unique offerings, and here you can see just some of our 2023 launches and those underway were planned in 2024. This genetic strategy is similar to other premium leaders in the US such as Cookies and Alien Labs, and in our view is essential to maintaining our leading premium brand portfolio. We continue to lead to leverage this premium brand leadership by launching new and exciting products and by entering segments that showcase our leading ability. I will now pass the call over to Janice who will share some more specifics on our financials.
spk06: Thank you Margaret and good morning everyone. As we look to our financial results we had anticipated a challenging quarter one due to typical seasonality as well as the overhang of weak consumer sentiment from 2023 and we've broadly delivered in line with our internal expectations. Specifically in the most recent quarter the company earned 8.9 million of net revenue reflecting the seasonal low we typically experience but more importantly returning to modest net revenue growth of 1% versus the same period prior year. Although we continue to see the effects of price compression and the move to larger formats within the flower category we are starting to see some early signs of the stabilizing within our results particularly from our 1964 brand. Growth profit for the quarter at 2.2 million and growth margin at 24% were impacted by the continuing trends we saw in the second half of 2023. Notably price compression and moves to lower price larger format as well as an innovation driven mix shift into lower margin categories. These mix effects are further hindered in the first quarter by the seasonally lower absolute sales over our largely fixed cultivation costs depressing our margin even further in the current period. We expect to see an improvement in growth margin for the balance of 2024 as net revenue increases and we rebalance our focus between our higher margin core flower portfolio and our new innovation launches. In addition to the growth profit pressure in the quarter we also invested 0.3 million in our ERP implementation project which readies us for future growth. The net results of which unfortunately resulted in a negative adjusted EBITDA for the quarter. Operating cash for the quarter was negatively impacted by the lower adjusted EBITDA as well as an increase in receivables outstanding at quarter end and an investment in working capital for upcoming new product launches. Although the adjusted EBITDA and operating cash results dipped in the quarter from our positive streak this was largely anticipated in our planning as we set the company up for continued growth in the balance of the year. Our working capital position continues to reflect the repayment of our long-term debt by year end. This facility bears interest at a very compelling rate of 7.5 percent compared to Canadian Prime at 7.2 percent. We are in active discussions for refinancing at similar rates and expect to have this in place in the second half of 2024. I also want to take this opportunity to confirm that we are current with our excise tax obligations. As we look at the rolling 12-month run rate we see the revenue declines we experienced in the second half of 2023 now stabilizing with the most recent quarter and still showing modest 3 percent growth over the trailing 12 month period. The growth profit before fair value adjustments decline is being driven by factors already discussed. Price pressure in the flower categories, adverse product mix towards larger size, lower price program format and innovation into lower margin categories. Our Simply Bear brand particularly felt the pressure in late 2023 as well as the impact of seasonality into the beginning of 2024. However we are excited for the potential of the brand with the new genetic launches planned for 2024 with BC Organic Power Mints and BC Organic Fruit Loops both off to a great start. The 1964 brand has already started to stabilize the flower performance in the first quarter of 2024 and the successful Edibles launch under the brand having majorly contributed to Rubicon achieving the number one market position for previous Edibles. Wildflower continues to lead the topical category now at 31 percent market share with new formats launched in 2023 contributing to continued net revenue growth of the brand. We have leveraged the strength of this brand by focusing on the daily wellness consumer and launching live Robin and minor cannabinoid infused Edibles in the fourth quarter of 2023. Despite the small dip in our adjusted EBITDA and operating cash flow performance our quarter one results were largely in line with our expectations and continue to bolster our confidence in our business plans for 2024 and set the foundation for another year of strong results for Rubicon. I would now like to turn the meeting back to Margaret.
spk05: Thank you Janice. In the past I have spoken about where the Canadian cannabis industry sits and what is to come. We are starting to see more clearly winners emerge as the Canadian industry faces financial distress including large amounts owing to the CRA now being acted on with garnishments of bank accounts and revenues from provincial distributors then CRA excise tax licenses revoked. Despite the distress in many parts of the Canadian industry there are some foundational pieces of good news. The legal market continues to grow coming off record legal sales totaling five billion in 2023. We saw annualized growth instead of 24 of almost 16 percent. A large opportunity remains for the conversion of the illicit market where an estimated 40 to 50 percent of consumers are still purchasing. Trends and data indicate that over the next three years the premium cannabis market will grow by over 300 million of which Rubicon currently has around seven percent market share. Demographically cannabis use is highest among 20 to 24 year olds with 50 percent having consumed in the last 12 months pointing to expected organic category growth to continue over time. In the coming quarters we anticipate ongoing pressure on companies to settle excise payments. Some may navigate through receivership and re-emerge while others may cease operations permanently. We've already observed a decline in the number of LPs in the market over the past six months. We are strategically positioned to pursue M&A from an advantaged pragmatic position and are only evaluating synergistic opportunities that present themselves as value prices. We intend to grow our business in 2024 and beyond. We leverage the power of our premium brands to grow our revenue and adjusted EBITDA and our largest revenue growth driver opportunity such with the launch of the 1964 vape in Q2 which we expect to mirror and surpass the success of our 23-1964 edibles launch. We have a solid footing from which to grow. We have a strong balance sheet which we expect to further strengthen with our debt refinancing. We have an enviable number one premium brand positioning in the cannabis sector, excellent people, strong brand reputation and great relationships with customers. We have our organic growth continuously maximizing yield and quality at the Delta facility and as previously disclosed in 2023 we install tables which we expect to boost yield at Delta up to 10% and increase plant health which should translate to further increases in flower quality. Beyond vape we are also applying external capacity to our business through co-manufacturing relationships such as our recently launched simply bear capsules and wildflower edibles and through targeted and trusted contract grow relationships using our own genetics to fill the brands where appropriate. Our goal is to procure around 1,000 kilos of high quality biomass from contract growers in 2024 and expand beyond that in the following years. We are taking advantage of a notable shift in Canadian LPs who are looking to grow great weed, partner with best in class brands and stay away from the complexity of brand building. Finally as competition falls away in 24 it opens up opportunities for successful companies like ours to seize market share. We prioritize product consistency, superior quality and more unique full-body flavors exactly what the consumer desires. We will be opportunistic as and when the right opportunities arise for our business to grow as we see a growing market and assets getting cheaper by the day. We have many strategic projects underway in 2024 and in the near term we are looking to deliver the launch of our FSC resin vape line under 1964 that we expect will demonstrate the power of our brand positioning and flower input quality. Our ERP implementation to ready Rubicon for growth and lastly refinancing of our Deventure due December 31 for longer term financing around the same interest rate as existing terms. With our premium brand positioning solid balance sheet and positive trajectory we expect to deliver continued growth in net revenue accompanied by adjusted EBITDA for the full year 24 as well as positive operating cash flow. Rubicon remains focused on our business strategy and delivering positive results to ultimately drive value for our shareholders. Despite the Canadian cannabis industry being hampered by various challenges Rubicon is the number one premium license producer and we look forward to 2024 continuing strong profitable performance from our premium branded portfolio. We would now like to open the line for analyst questions. Operator please open the line.
spk04: We will now begin the questioning answer session. Should you have a question please press the star followed by the one on a touchdown phone. You will hear a prompt if your hand has been raised. Questions will be taken in the order received. If you wish to cancel your request please press the star followed by the two. If you are using a speakerphone please lift the handset before pressing any case. Once again that is star one should you wish to ask a question. Your first question is from Neil Gomer from Haywood Securities. Please ask your question.
spk01: Yeah good morning and thanks very much for the questions. I'm just wondering if you can comment a little bit more about what you're seeing on the consumer sentiment side. Like obviously you talked about you know what you you saw coming out of 23 into Q1 had a slight impact there. What have you seen so far in Q2? You're seeing some still some cautiousness from the consumer or how are you seeing that sort of fold this quarter?
spk05: Good question Neil again good morning. Look we really saw cautiousness probably and looking over at Janice we really think until about the end of the first week in February and then the Canadian economy started to tick up. We can see that in our results we think we're the premium segment in particular is impacted by that and going into Q2 you know I would say probably a bit more cautiously optimistic probably even optimistic in what we're going to see in the rest of the year you'll notice our guidance is unchanged in terms of growth in our revenue and our and continued adjusted EBITDA positive through the rest of 24 so we're very comfortable in saying that sitting here today.
spk01: Great thank you and then obviously with the launch of into the vape category how should we think about sort of the cadence of that with respect to you know per disorders and getting into various different provinces at mostly an h2 impact or a you know we'll see a little bit of revenues under the vape category in Q2.
spk05: Yeah Janice you take that one.
spk06: Hi Neil. I think for that one it's going to be a slight slow burn as Margaret said we did get the initial purchase orders this week. It takes a little bit of time to get them out of store and then it takes time again for the stores to make their reorder. So well we expect to see a little bit of results in Q2. We expect that to pick up in momentum from Q3 and then later in the year when we extend the range even further once we have those early signs of success.
spk05: We're very very excited about the the way the products turned out. The initial reception and excitement about it and look it's a great full spectrum product which really highlights the quality of the flower. So it's the closest experience to our flower and I think cannabis consumers will love
spk02: it. That's great thanks very much for taking the questions.
spk04: Thank you once again please press star one should you wish to ask a question. Your next question is from Andrew Sumpo from Echelon. Please ask your question.
spk03: Good morning Margaret and Janice thanks for taking my questions. I'll say on the vape category first off so you know you're you're entering this new category which you've not played in before. It's a sizable category and a competitive category. Maybe you could just give us give some sense of where you think Rubicon's products will really stand out. I think you commented a bit on this in the prepared remarks speaking to the differentiated quality of the inputs. Do you think you know the consumer will require some education around that or or do you think that there is consumer base out there that that is looking for this and that Rubicon's filling and on that on that niche in the market?
spk05: I think thank you for the question Andrew. Firstly Rubicon doesn't believe that we always need to be first to be best. We think coming up with a high quality product is important. So a similar product is in market and I would I would probably characterize the tribal vape. This is a full spectrum extract. It does highlight the quality of flower and it's looking it's for people that probably enjoy the flower experience. This consumer already exists and are looking for a more discreet way often or not having to pull through an entire joint. So you know if you've got kids around, if you've got some, if you're if you just want to be quiet you don't want to have a whole or or or just convenience. Vapes work really really well. We are not competing obviously against the the the cotton candy style flavors. We're competing for cannabis consumers that love cannabis and we believe that the FSC which is called in the legacy market consumer is already out there. The 1964 brand is going after the legacy consumer to bring them into the legal market and I think that's exactly what this product's doing. When you walk into a store as a legacy consumer it's in particular an experienced one you'll know what this product is.
spk02: That's great. Awesome. Next
spk03: question would just be on the gross margin. You provided some some of the factors that that weight on that this quarter. Maybe you could just rank order in terms of magnitude. What you know what were the largest factors in terms of the pressure on margins this quarter? That would be helpful.
spk06: Yeah I'd say it's probably three pronged you know what we said and they're roughly roughly equal drivers. So the two things that we started to see in the second half already that continued into quarter one which was overall the flower market the pricing being compressed which obviously squeezes margins as we look to stay competitive within our value set and to switch up to larger margins. Consumer sentiment just moving away a little bit from those premium offerings and so the way they stay within our brand is to trade up to the larger sizes which obviously offer greater value for them but do squeeze our margins a little bit. The second and equal impact is really where that innovation has come from which is the edibles which is notoriously a lower margin category. So we're we love that category as it's great for our top line brand and we're we're winning a consumer there that is often different than the flower consumer but it does come at a lower margin overall and with third parties being involved in the procurement of that as well. And then the third thing is just that seasonally lower Q1 quarter as well where our fixed operating costs that you see in our production cost line those get expensed every quarter regardless of what the top line is and so we're building built a little bit of inventory in Q1 as we typically do and then we sell that through in the remaining quarters. So really do expect a bounce back to start to happen again from Q2 and beyond and getting ourselves back to the margin levels we experienced in the second half of 2023.
spk05: Yeah and we expect that we also think that you know we had a lot of we had a lot of innovation that was the newer products and that's an easy thing for the sales team to talk to and we've been turning the ship to refocus that on as I said you know when you've got a new product that comes in it's easy to speak to and we just had to do a little a little shake up to make sure we were focusing on the right products in store and with retailers.
spk03: Got it that's helpful and maybe the last one just quickly if I may. If you could give a quick update on what when you're expecting some of the yield and product quality benefits from the new tables installed at the Delta facility when we should start to expect those to appear more substantially in the financial results.
spk05: Thank you that's a great question. We have a couple of things that you'll notice in what we're doing. One is we run a lot of trials and like to learn from everything that we're doing to always get better. Organic is more difficult but we believe brings a more wonderful product. We believe we're going to start to see the positive impacts on yield in the second half. We've been running a whole bunch of trials and getting building our IP database around what we do. We believe that we actually are the leading organic cannabis company in the world at this stage. We want to continue on that so second half is the answer but also I think what you're going to see from us is the contract grow relationships with our own genetics. What they've done is they're feeding in so that we can grow our our overall revenue line with vape. So we've got those those those genetics seated at other locations including including always looking at good alternatives. We'll be able to grow that revenue line without as much constraint which is wonderful.
spk02: That's helpful thanks for taking my questions. I'll get back into the queue.
spk04: Thank you. Thank you. There are no further questions at this time. Please proceed.
spk05: Thank you, Vario, for joining us today. Watch for our big products on store and we'll be reporting back to you in the second quarter with our results and preliminary feedback. We are committed to driving Rubicon Organics forward as a leader in premium and organic cannabis in Canada and thank you all for your time and attention today.

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