- Constellation Brands CEO Bill Newlands said in an interview with CNBC that former chief Bruce Linton was not fired from Canopy Growth because of financials.
- Instead, the board thought the cannabis company needed a new leader for the next phase of growth, he said.
- Analysts say Canopy is still well-positioned to dominate in the cannabis industry going forward.
- Watch Canopy trade live on Markets Insider.
To continue to dominate in cannabis, the board of Canopy Growth decided the company needed a focused leader at its helm.
Apparently, that leader wasn’t Bruce Linton. In an interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer, Bill Newlands, CEO of Constellation Brands, gave more details around the abrupt departure of Linton from the top role at Canopy Growth Corp Wednesday. Shares of the cannabis company fell as much as 6% on the news last week.
Linton’s termination was not a result of spending, nor poor booking, Newlands said. It was instead because the board "needed focus" to push forward into great opportunities seen in the cannabis space, which experts say could grow to be a $200 billion business.
"Canopy is best positioned of anyone in the industry to take advantage of that," Newlands told CNBC.
But he continued to say the board wanted to be sure that the company is making the right investments in foreign factors to win the markets that matter — notably Canada and the US.
"Our board was uniform," Newlands said. "We needed a different leader to take us to the next phase of growth."
And Constellation Brands should know a thing or two about Canopy’s financials. When it took over a majority 38% stake in Canopy, investing $4 billion, it installed company veteran Mike Lee as the CFO.
The leadership shakeup at Canopy came after weak company earnings resulted in a loss of $39 million, or 20 cents per share, to Constellation’s earnings. The loss was much more than analysts had expected — Canopy blamed increased investment in sales and marketing costs.
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It was a smudge on an otherwise blockbuster earnings season for Constellation Brands, the company behind notable brands such as Modelo and Corona. The company’s first quarter earnings crushed analyst expectations, driven by strong sales of Modelo, which gained the top market-share in US beer.
Still, analysts say Canopy is well-positioned going forward, as co-CEO Mark Zekulin has taken the reins from Linton as the company searches for its next leader. The cannabis company is still the largest in the industry, and has products that span medical and recreational use of marijuana and CBD, a compound in cannabis that does not get you high.
Canopy has plans to release CBD products in the US soon, and is waiting on looser laws around marijuana. A majority of consumers think that marijuana should be legal, Newlands said, and there is bipartisan support for legalization.
Shares of Canopy are up roughly 45% year-to-date.
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