Diana Calvert, River City Retail Marijuana Dispensary manager in Merlin, Oregon, stocks the shelves with product. Credit: Timothy Bullard | AP

Stock market investors flocked to the budding market for companies with cannabis-related businesses this year as more U.S. states and Canada legalized recreational marijuana use.

Maine voters approved recreational cannabis in November 2016, but the state has not yet developed rules and regulations to govern its dispensing. Neighboring Massachusetts on Tuesday opened two legal recreational dispensaries.

However, in Canada and elsewhere, sales are heating up, in turn attracting investor interest.

But much like the highs people get from imbibing, the four top cannabis companies’ quarterly earnings performances released recently were all over the place.

The four, all listed on U.S. stock markets, are also the biggest players in the Canadian cannabis industry, where recreational marijuana became legal in October. They reported third quarter earnings last week and this week.

They are Aurora Cannabis (NYSE:ACB), a cannabis producer headquartered in Edmonton, Ontario; Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC), the world’s largest medical cannabis company operating out of Smith Falls, Ontario; Cronos Group (NASDAQ:CRON), headquartered in Toronto, Canada; and Tilray (NASDAQ:TLRY), headquartered in Nanaimo, British Columbia.

Aurora Cannabis posted the strongest year-over-year revenue growth in the third quarter, up 260 percent, according to Motley Fool, but most of that came from acquiring other companies.

Cronos Group achieved the highest organic revenue growth of the four at 186 percent.

Canopy’s 33 percent this quarter compared to the same quarter last year disappointed investors, said Motley Fool, and its revenue was less than the previous sequential quarter, reflecting relatively sluggish growth for the year.

Tilray’s third-quarter revenue was up 86 percent.

Overall, the financial performance of the companies could serve as a case study for how the companies are likely to approach future new markets, and in turn how their business will grow, Motley Fool said.

“For those who’ve hoped to score quick stock wins from cannabis companies’ quarterly reports, earnings week [Nov. 12] was a disappointment,” Motley Fool wrote. Yet for long-term investors … the cannabis market has developed to a great enough extent that it’s worthwhile to pay attention to fundamental business performance.

“How these four companies do in Canada’s recreational rollout will serve as a case study in how they’re likely to approach future legalization opportunities elsewhere,” Motley Fool said. “And we saw differences in the way that various players ramped up for mid-October [when Canada legalized recreational marijuana] that should show up in fourth-quarter results early next year.”

Investopedia said these and other public companies in the legal recreational marijuana market are likely to experience ups and downs in revenue and stock performance because the market still is so new.

“Considering that the industry is still growing and the dynamics of supply and demand are still very much in flux, it’s likely that the legal cannabis industry will undergo plenty more growing pains before cooling off,” Investopedia wrote.

Money keeps flowing into Maine companies

Maine companies continue to attract venture capital and other investment after Pika Energy, a Westbrook-based solar and energy storage company, attracted $1.9 million in venture capital from undisclosed sources during the third quarter of this year.

In the fourth quarter, Black Point Seafood of Portland raised $225,000 in equity investment in October, according to a U.S. Securities Exchange Commission filing. The company distributes Maine lobster, seafood and beef products throughout the United States.

Coast 2 Coast Extracts, a Portland-based cannabis extraction company, so far has raised $100,000 of the $4.5 million in equity it is seeking.

Nova Analytic Labs, a Portland-based lab for cannabis testing, has raised $501,500 of the $1.8 million in equity it is seeking.

And Research Enhanced Design and Development, a Brunswick-based energy bar maker, raised half of a $2 million debt and option offering.

One business’ loss is another’s gain

With billions of dollars in business up for grabs after Toys R Us and other stores either went out of business or are on their way out, competitors have formed strategies to pick up market share, the Associated Press reported.

It said companies like Target and online mattress company Casper are creating playbooks to pick up business. market share that those and other defunct or dying retailers left behind.

Casper is teaming up with Nordstrom and other department stores to introduce pop-up mattress shops in areas where Mattress Firm, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October, had locations.

Kohl’s is targeting ads at customers in areas where Bon-Ton and Sears shuttered stores.

Target CEO Brian Cornell told the AP he estimates up to $100 billion in market share is now up for grabs, about double what he foresaw just a year ago. Target has devoted extra space at 500 of its stores for bigger toys like electric cars, playhouses and musical instruments. It also added nearly 200 more products. About half of those locations are about five miles from former Toys R Us stores.

In 2018, roughly 30 retailers filed for bankruptcy compared to 41 last year, according to research firm S&P Global Market Intelligence. As the recession gained steam in 2008, 440 retailers filed for bankruptcy, the highest number since S&P started tracking the data, the AP said.