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What Nasdaq Shift Means for Aphria Stock

So long New York Stock Exchange. Hello Nasdaq. Canadian marijuana firm Aphria Inc. (NYSE: APHA) is switching exchanges.

Beginning June 8, Aphria will be listed on the Nasdaq exchange, with the same symbol. The U.S. move doesn’t impact the Ontario-based company’s primary listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Cost-Cutting Move

“This move is a reflection of our ongoing commitment to find cost effective ways of operating so we can continue to deliver long-term value to shareholders,” said CEO Irwin D. Simon. It’s cheaper for companies to list on Nasdaq.

An old world view is to consider the NYSE more prestigious, sort of an exclusive club where not everyone is permitted. The NYSE certainly has the storied history that large companies find appealing. It was founded in 1817, whereas Nasdaq launched in 1971.

Tech companies and newer firms were drawn to the electronic cachet of Nasdaq, where trading is fully automated. Much of the trading at the NYSE is also automated, but there are still human specialists working the floor of the New York Stock Exchange building on Wall Street. Those traders and brokers are “a crucial part of the NYSE brand,” according to Quartz.

But investors these days don’t pay much attention to where a stock is listed. And hot tech companies don’t necessarily migrate to Nasdaq. NYSE-listed companies include Uber Technologies Inc. (NYSE: UBER) and salesforce.com inc. (NYSE: CRM).

Socially Responsible Investing

Aphria says it is also drawn to Nasdaq’s commitment to socially responsible investing. “As a purpose driven company, we believe Nasdaq will be a good fit for Aphria, particularly given our focus on, and the progress we have made, integrating ESG practices across our business.” Socially conscious investors screen companies based on their ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) criteria.

“With over 76% of Nasdaq-listed companies reporting on at least one ESG metric, we welcome Aphria to the Nasdaq family as they strive to integrate ESG best practices across their business and add strategic value to all of their stakeholders,” said Bob McCooey, global head of capital markets at Nasdaq.

Aphria has made the environment a core part of its business and marketing pitch. The company was founded in 2013 “with a vision to produce high-quality cannabis in the most natural growing conditions.” Aphria grows its cannabis in huge greenhouses, using sustainable techniques. “As a conscientious company, we pride ourselves on providing a natural product for our patients and consumers,” according to Aphria marketing materials.

Stock Winner

Investors have liked Aphria, which has stood out in a volatile field of cannabis stocks. The stock is up nearly 24% in the last month, though it is down nearly 20% year to date.

The company reported surprisingly good earnings in the latest quarter, showing a profit on strong sales. “Our growth has enabled us to be one of the few profitable, publicly traded distributors,” CEO Irwin Simon said last month. EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) has also been positive for the last four quarters.

In its latest financial results, Aphria reported C$515 million in cash or cash equivalents. That liquidity is just what the doctor ordered in a down economy, and the strong balance sheet sets Aphria apart in the publicly traded cannabis industry.