Scammers and slam-dunkers: Equity.Guru’s top 10 most-read stories of 2016

Equity.Guru debuted in February of 2016 as a small blip on a very big radar.The first 100 visitors to a new site are the toughest ones to find, but with the help of a handful of appreciated smallcap founding sponsors (I’m looking at you, Equitas Resources (EQT.V) and Nano One Materials (NNO.V) ), a free WordPress template, a $5 logo and as much piss and vinegar as one can fit in a grande Starbucks cup, this site stepped off the ledge and went right into a triple twist with a pike somersault, nailing a big old belly flop on the landing and making a year of splash.

Former Stockhouse editorial lead and Vancouver Sun journalist Chris Parry launched the site with a firm commitment to speak truth to Armani, without pulling punches, even if we had to kick about client companies in the process. That remains the intention as 2017 beckons.

When going back through our ‘best of’ for the year, we found our most-read stories often displayed that fire and brimstone attitude, with some choice pull-quotes that sometimes resulted in annoyed CEO phone calls. And sometimes resulted in chastened CEO apologies.

Here is a look at the most-viewed stories on the E.G site; in some cases, viewer discretion is advised.

10. Cannabis Royalties reveals more information about public listing

One of the most anticipated listings of the year was the now CannaRoyalty, and the reason it was so anticipated was nobody knew what the hell is was, right up until opening day. Nobody except us, that is. 🙂 In our tenth most-read story, Parry noted how the legalization of recreational cannabis in California and Florida would impact the company

The big takeaway quote: ‘This is a play that works directly into my estimation that, in six months to a year, we’ll be seeing our first Big Pharma or Big Health acquisitions of companies in the weed space….’

Parry notes: We talked to Marc Lustig a lot over the last year plus, about how brand building was key to everything in the second wave of weed. He’s done everything he said he would, and more.

9. CannaRoyalty (CRZ.C) debuts on CSE, blows up to $150m market cap

When you’re the most anticipated listing of the year, day one will always be a newsmaker.

The big takeaway quote: ‘CRZ’s strategy is to collect a piece (or all or the IP or the branding) of multiple verticals, from license holders in multiple states in the US, allowing them to take those brands and IP and technologies and cross-pollinate them to build truly national cannabis companies.’

Parry notes: Boom.

8. Marijuana update: The Golden Leaf cleanup, Aphria doubles down

It wasn’t mentioned in the headline, but within this news roundup, Parry roasted Creative Edge Nutrition (FITX), AKA CEN Biotech, as they finally succumbed to the cancer within.

The big takeaway quote: ‘I took a solid eighteen months of abuse from FITX investors for my part in the destruction of this bullshit ruse, even as everything I wrote about the company came true and the share price shattered. It was clear to any thinking person what was really happening, because the CEO was so amazingly bad at covering up his tracks.’

Parry notes: Anyone who lost their house on FITX deserved to. You had to be the most oblivious asshole, or the worst kind of petty gambler, to have stuck anything in that woodchipper of a stock that you couldn’t afford to never see again.

7. The Deep Dive: Tinley Beverage Company (TNY.C)

The beverage biz is a tough one, but Tinley CEO Jeff Maser revealed his long play in this analysis piece, where one of the biggest smallcap weed movers of the last three months (6c to 40c) laid out the detail on his novel shift:

The big takeaway quote: ‘We believe the de-alcoholized drinks are a game-changer. Nobody enjoys someone busting out a joint at dinner, but now you could enjoy a drink with your friends and get a comfortable high instead of getting your drunk on.’

Parry notes: CEO Jeff Maser ground this win out, building his company from scratch and taking advantage of a sudden market comeback. Smart guys usually win eventually. Driven smart guys always do.

6. Aurora Cannabis (ACB.C) under attack, stock slumps

Attacked on the markets amid a less-than-amicable parting by two of the company’s main figures, Parry discovered the stock was one of the most shorted equities on the CSE at the time, and the story has been racking up page views ever since. Though Parry and ACB CEO Terry Booth were at war as 2016 began, the two talked later on and found reasons to be amicable as the company found its footing.

The big takeaway quote: ‘This would normally be the point where I’d call Terry Booth and ask him about what’s going on,’ Parry wrote, ‘but I share (former principal Marc) Levy’s negative opinion on the king of the ‘tired and emotional’ 3am email and so, truthfully, I have zero shits to give about what he thinks about why his company is imploding.’

Parry notes: Man, I remember the blood streaming down my chin as I wrote that. Terry’s deserving of credit, in hindsight. He’s built a genuinely large company at Aurora and weathered many a storm.

5. International Cannabis Corp (ICC.V) rockets to $132m valuation on vapours

After the company raised a bunch of capital on little information, Parry cast a dim view on its prospects after looking at documentation acquired via SEDAR, and seeing just how small Uruguay is.

The big takeaway quote: ‘If you feel like this is a big money making opportunity, by all means buy in. But also check in to the nearest ‘over optimism therapy clinic’ you can find, because this deal is a bucket of horse pucky financed by guys who knew the market would propel it without looking too hard at details, and who are now getting baked at the Pac Rim discussing which hookers to book for tonight.’

Parry notes: And nobody has called me to suggest otherwise.

4. Kushtown USA (FIN.C): Playing the California vote like a boss

Kushtown established itself with 23 ‘liquid-edible’ brands, and that level of production led Parry to sign on as both an investor and consultant.

The big takeaway quote: ‘I’ve long said … that the great rush for marijuana exposure would eventually come down to brands, not [growhouses]. You don’t want to grow the coffee, you want to be franchising Starbucks stores. … Kushtown, to me, has more upside than a lot of the [growers] in the Canadian space, strapped down as they are to zero marketing rules, tiny consumer numbers, and a competitive space that has 30+ companies licensed to serve a tiny fraction of the potential audience.’

Parry notes: Yer damn right.

3. Aphria’s (APH.V) veteran pricing scam leads to cannabis industry split

After a year of owning Aphria stock and talking about it often as one of the more grown up companies in the weed space, Parry lambasted the company after others allegedly found veterans were being fed higher prices than the public, prompting the federal government to step in.It was a sad day for a guy who had long been a big Aphria homer.

The big takeaway quote: ‘Aphria’s moves are bush league stuff. They put a black eye on themselves, and the industry proper, and now the Veterans Affairs minister Kent Hehr has announced he will scale back the allowable prescription levels for veterans to reign in the runaway costs.’

Parry notes: The worst thing about this situation, to me, was how Aphria went into PR shutdown mode rather than explain the story. From a corporate standpoint, that’s a valid tactic. But it’s also gutless. The company may kick on just fine, and I certainly did well out of the stock, but I remain pissed at the dumb move that started all this.

2. Newly licensed Emblem Marijuana (SAB.H) closing raise soon

Because of the qualifications and the level of investment among the principals, Parry liked this play and hard. With a former CEO of Purdue Pharmaceuticals aboard, and a market giving favourable valuations to anything well-funded and weedy, Emblem is a gimme.

The big takeaway quote: ‘I don’t have a deal with Emblem [actually, we do now], but with the financing closing (shares are $0.75 with a six month hold), I figured you should know now, rather than later, because it’s a sweet deal.’

Parry notes: Damn right it was a sweet deal. How’s that $3.50 stock looking?

1. Medical Marijuana Update: Let’s round up the little guys

In his overview of the state of play in the cannabis sector, Parry sorted the seeds and sticks from the nuggets in a story that was not only well read when it was published but continues to be in the top 10 most read daily stories today, even months later.

The big takeaway quote: ‘These companies range from full on pump and dumps to interesting side bets to straight up value picks. Some of them I’ve come back into after some time away. Others I wouldn’t touch with (infamous marijuana activist and business owner) Marc Emery’s prison shank.’

Parry notes: We couldn’t have timed this story better. It literally came out two days before the market went nuts. I’d claim responsibility, but nobody would believe me. So I’ll instead claim good insight into market conditions. Also, people love it when I slipper a bad guy, and there were plenty to slipper within.

Douchebag of the Year award: Jodie Emery, who has spent years campaigning for legalized weed but, now that it’s coming, has shifted gears into campaigning for herself to be allowed to profit from it and, if that can’t happen, nobody should. Sorry, dear. Your entitlement only stretches as far as your husband’s ability to make it through a day without posting Instagram pictures of teenage girls.

Here’s Jodie ‘not profiting from weed’ on the beach at Marbella.

And here she is doing the same in Jamaica:

My favourite photo of Jodie on our vacation in Jamaica. She’s so beautiful. ?♥️ A photo posted by Marc Emery (@marcscottemery) on

And here’s the new Toronto condo, definitely not paid for by weed profits:

Jodie sitting in our living room after arranging the new furniture arrivals.

A photo posted by Marc Emery (@marcscottemery) on

Not pictured: The eight Montreal dispensaries that the couple has managed to finance this past month while they’re not profiting from marijuana. And here’s her husband, just hanging with the girls:

Me with fellow CC staffer Sasha @smokeprincesstoronto at 600 Church St.! Whew! What a week! A photo posted by Marc Emery (@marcscottemery) on

 

Me with fellow CC staffer Sasha @smokeprincesstoronto at 600 Church St.! Whew! What a week!

 

A photo posted by Marc Emery (@marcscottemery) on

Nothing creepy about any of that, at all.

Disclaimer: ALWAYS DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH and consult with a licensed investment professional before making an investment. This communication should not be used as a basis for making any investment.

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