Bets on marijuana companies helped an Australian manager soar 145 per cent last year to become the world’s best-performing hedge fund.
Stock and credit investments in North American marijuana producers contributed to 22 percentage points of last year’s gain for the $200-million Tribeca Global Natural Resources Fund, said Sydney-based Ben Cleary, who co-manages the pool with Craig Evans. The fund has advanced 4 per cent this year through February, Mr. Cleary said.
The wagers helped the hedge fund rise to the very top among more than 10,000 rivals tracked by data provider Preqin and stand out in a lackluster year for the industry. Eight U.S. states and the District of Columbia legalized recreational cannabis use among adults and more than half the country’s states have laws allowing medical use of the drug. While federal laws prohibit the sale of marijuana and officials from Donald Trump’s administration have sent mixed signals on whether they would increase enforcement, Mr. Cleary said he isn’t concerned because cannabis laws are state-based.
“People have voted with their feet at the ballot box,” Mr. Cleary said in the email. “Financing to this sector is still incredibly hard to find and the cottage-like mum-and-dad industry is prime for consolidation in the U.S.”
The U.S. legalized cannabis industry’s revenue hit $6.7-billion last year and is highly likely to surpass $20-billion in five years, Mr. Cleary said. The industry will expand to $50-billion by 2026, Cowen & Co., the former bond brokerage aiming to become Wall Street’s leading provider of cannabis research, estimated in September.