Rivals won’t ‘let Constellation control’ cannabis, says Jon Taffer

Major players in the beverage industry will follow Constellation Brands into the cannabis industry, Jon Taffer, host of Paramount’s “Bar Rescue,” told CNBC on Wednesday.

“I don’t think anybody is going to let Constellation control this space, so I think they’re the first one. I think they’re aggressive. And the next ones will be more defensive,” the bar consultant said on CNBC’s “Closing Bell.”

Constellation announced an additional $4 billion stake in Canopy Growth, which Constellation says upped its stake in the company to 38 percent. The maker of Corona and Modelo beers in October took a 9.9 percent stake in the Canadian cannabis company.

Taffer said the $200 million October investment was “putting their toes in the water.”

“This is a significant investment to acquire 38 percent of the company, so this was a $4 billion investment. I think this is a jump-in, not a walk-in,” Taffer said.

The investment comes during a time alcohol is doing well, with the possible exception of beer, which Taffer said is under-performing. He said it is a big indicator of the opportunity that spirits and hospitality companies see in cannabis.

“We are starting to think cannabis is becoming the fourth leg of the industry: spirits, beer, wine and cannabis,” he said.

Tim Seymour, founder and Chief Investment Officer of Seymour Asset Management, agreed, adding that the investment is a consumer products play.

“The fact that Constellation is willing to spend a 50 percent premium to already extraordinary valuations … and they think this is going to be earnings accretive in 2021 — that tells you all you need to know about the opportunity,” Seymour said Wednesday on CNBC’s “Fast Money.”

Seymour said other companies in the space, like MedRelief and the Green Dutchman, are out there building brands, and big players, such as Molson Coors and Constellation Brands, were starting to feel left out.

“They are worried about being left behind while guys build a name for themselves in the space. And if one of the biggest alcohol and beverage companies is involved in this kind of a way at this valuation it tells you the big boys are all coming,” said Seymour.

“This is another hallmark week in the cannabis industry in what’s been an extraordinary month,” he added.

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