Anonymous Analytics, the financially-minded faction of the hacktivist group Anonymous, has spent the past decade making a name for itself by digging through documents and exposing the nefarious practices of businesses such as private prisons and coal mines. “We use our talents to expose fraud and corruption among public companies,” the group’s website explains.
Now the Anonymous group is turning its attention to the cannabis sector. And while there’s no shortage of rumored wrongdoing in the industry, Anonymous Analytics’ first-ever cannabis report strikes a tone that sounds more like CNBC than WikiLeaks.
The hacktivist collective wants you to invest. In Zig-Zags.
It’s true. Anonymous Analytics is encouraging investors to buy shares in Turning Point Brands (TPB), the company behind Zig-Zag rolling papers. The group describes the company as “highly profitable, but woefully under-covered and under-valued,” making it a promising investment.
While Turning Point may be best known for Zig-Zags, it also produces chewing tobacco and vape pens—products in what analysts call the “other tobacco product,” or OTP, category.
“While the cigarette industry has experienced generational declines with smoking falling out of favor,” the report says, citing a 2018 SEC filing by TBP, “the OTP market has continued to grow.”
TBP is also well positioned to capture a piece of the growing CBD market, Anonymous Analytics notes, having launched a website and proprietary CBD oils, tinctures, and concentrates under the brand name Nu-X this past March. More recently, the company began listing CBD products on its other online platforms, including VaporFi and Direct Vapor. “We expect TBP to become one of the most prominent CBD companies in North America by 2021,” the report says.
And while many new CBD companies have grappled with inconsistency in dosage and quality assurance, the report says that TBP, with its “deep understanding of lab testing and proper dosing, given its background in the tobacco space,” is better positioned to succeed as regulations take hold.
“We expect at some point for the FDA to bring in regulation around CBD, and many of the smaller companies that don’t have regulatory experience will disappear,” the report says. “By contrast, TBP is a professional company with extensive experience in dealing with FDA regulations and guidelines. … This is the kind of professionalism and compliance protocol national chains want to see.”
How Is This Hacktivism?
Anonymous Analytics isn’t exactly known for showering praise on billion-dollar companies like TPB. So after reading the puzzlingly flattering report, I reached out to ask how exactly it aligns with their watchdog role.
The group’s answer suggests that its Zig-Zag report is only a starting point. An Anonymous Analytics spokesperson told me via email that the group intends to take a closer look at companies operating within the cannabis space. TPB, the group said, provides a baseline against which to judge other brands.
“We started with TPB to set a benchmark: Here is what a professional company with a realistic strategy looks like, and here is what a justifiable valuation looks like,” the group stated. “Next time we release a critical report on a cannabis company that spends more time pumping up their stock price than actually building a sustainable business, we have something to compare and contrast.”
Does that mean more damning reports are coming?
“Yes,” came the reply in my inbox, “we already have a couple of names in the works right now.”