An Apple a day may keep the doctor away, but millennials want weed.
Millennial investors just made Aurora Cannabis the most popular trade on investment app Robinhood-beating out tech giant Apple.
Aurora Cannabis recently ranked No. 1 on Robinhood's list of the top 20 most-held stocks on the trading platform-compared to Apple, which now ranks at No. 4. Robinhood, a commission-free investment platform known for its largely Gen Z and millennial users, has carved out a niche with beginner investors.
But while big tech stocks like Apple have historically been high up on the app's most-held list, weed stocks are quickly dominating the platform.
Still, why are millennials and Gen Zers so bullish on cannabis? "There's certainly the cool factor and it's a product they can relate to," said Matthew Karnes, the founder of GreenWave Advisors, a firm specializing in researching the cannabis industry.
But apart from the "cool factor," it seems the overall generational attitude toward cannabis may be a driving factor as to why these demographics are so eager to invest in the space. "Given the limited amount of pure play cannabis stocks available for U.S. investors, it comes [as] no surprise that millennials are concentrating in these positions," Matt Hawkins, managing principal at Cresco Capital Partners, told Fortune via email. "This generation has never seen 'Reefer Madness,' and does not view cannabis as a stigma."
Without a stigma hindering investors, it is clear that young Robinhood users are increasingly going for pot stocks. What's more, others like Bill Tkacs, managing partner of Vested Capital Partners, noted the numerous applications of cannabis (including medicinal and recreational) to be a major contributor to millennials and Gen Zers viewing the industry as full of "positivity, growth, [and] opportunity."
"As this matures from a regulatory standpoint in the U.S. federally, the market is going to get even bigger and bigger," Hawkins said. "It's just scratching the surface on how big this industry can be."
A growing field
In fact, according to recent reports, cannabis ETFs have made millions for investors. Bloomberg data shows that popular pot ETFs Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF and ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF had returns of over 45% during the 1st quarter this year-more than most non-leveraged ETFs in North America.
Aurora Cannabis itself has seen relatively strong performance in the market in recent months. Despite still trading below $10, the cannabis company's stock boasts six "buy" ratings from analysts, or a 71% buy rating, according to Bloomberg data.
In fact, Tkacs even likened the economic growth in the weed space to a "generational economic phenomenon, almost like the Gold Rush, or the Silicon Age." And Karnes is equally bullish on weed's potential.
"On any measure, cannabis is really probably the most compelling from an investment standpoint when you look at the growth prospects," Karnes said. "Have valuations exceeded the current intrinsic value? Perhaps, but I do think that, over time, stocks will grow into their valuations and then some."
Still, trading platform Robinhood has come under scrutiny for promoting frequent trading on individuals stocks-something analysts say may be unwise for the unseasoned trader.
And for experts like Tara Falcone, a financial planner, analyst and the founder of financial education company ReisUP, Robinhood's platform may be "only focusing on what happens when a company does well and the stock price goes up," and pushing investors to trade individual stocks rather than ETFs.
But beyond the platform itself, there are several other factors that experts like Falcone claim may be responsible for Aurora's rise to the top of the list.
"When you're talking about first getting into trades, you click on browse [on Robinhood] and one of the first things you see is the 100 most popular list," Falcone said. "To the untrained investor who has now decided to start buying individual stocks, thinking 'I haven't done any research on my own, what are other people investing in?' And when Aurora is the top stock, that initial gut reaction that these novice investors may have is, 'oh, other investors know more than I do, what do they know that I don't? What might I miss out on if I don't buy this stock now? I should buy this stock now.'"
Apart from peer influence, Falcone claims many millennials and Gen Z investors might erroneously view Aurora and weed stocks as "cheaper" than those like Apple. She claims that these investors may "confuse affordability, or a low share price, with opportunity" due to a lack of knowledge about fundamentals.
To avoid early faux-pas in the investing space, experts like Falcone and Tkacs suggest soliciting expert advice, planning an investment strategy and doing fundamental research on the companies.
Adds Tkacs: "it's also good to invest in what [you] know, things [you] use day to day, things that excite [you] and [you're] passionate about."
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