10 interesting B.C. stocks we’re watching in 2023

Here are a few stocks we're keeping our eyes on, ranked from lowest to highest risk/return profile.

Ritchie Bros

Credit: Ritchie Bros

Here are a few stocks we’re keeping our eyes on, ranked from lowest to highest risk/return profile

Ritchie Bros Auctioneers

In anticipation of several more months of stock-market volatility, Scotiabank’s strategy team recently made a list of their “top-ranked quality stocks” for weathering the storm. The elite ranking included Burnaby-based Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers (TSX, NYSE:RBA). But hold on: the used heavy equipment dealer is in the midst of an ambitious—and contentious— US$7.3-billion takeover of IAA Inc., a Chicago-based automotive auction house. (RBA’s own market cap is around C$8.1 billion.) And it comes after a $1.2-billion bid for Euro Auctions was foiled by British regulators last spring. Has president and CEO Ann Fandozzi bitten off more than she can chew? We should know by mid-year.

Premium Brands Holding Corp.

Known as a serial acquisitor, Premium Brands (TSX:PBH) ran into a headwind in 2022 with the advent of higher interest rates, which raise the cost of dealmaking. Its stock tumbled nearly 40 percent. But its earnings momentum has stayed positive, suggesting the Richmond-headquartered gourmet food manufacturer could recapture at least some of its premium valuation in 2023. The depressed share price has also served to boost PBH’s dividend yield above 3 percent. If you venture in, you may rub shoulders at the AGM with members of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, which made a substantial private placement in the company in 2019.

Teck Resources

Last year, Teck’s long-time boss, Don Lindsay, announced the company’s intention to split into two. Under new CEO Jonathan Price, B.C.’s biggest mining company (TSX:TECK.B) still aims to spin off its metallurgical coal mines from its metals mining and smelting operations. The thinking is that sustainability-minded investors will more readily buy shares in the copper and zinc side, both key elements in the transition to a decarbonized economy, once  it’s freed from its fossil-fuel baggage. (Don’t worry about the baggage side; it has been amply profitable on its own over the years.) Teck already sold its interest in the Fort Hills oilsands project to Suncor Energy for $1 billion in October. 

Canaccord Genuity

With the pending absorption of HSBC Canada into Royal Bank of Canada, Canaccord Genuity Group (TSX:CF) has become the lone publicly traded financial institution with headquarters in Vancouver (and even that’s debatable, given that CEO Dan Daviau and much of his executive team are now ensconced in Toronto). The independent brokerage and investment bank would seem a bit of a throwback to a bygone era. Yet even after the market downturn of 2022, which will have depleted client accounts and compressed fees and commissions, Canaccord’s stock is exiting the pandemic at a higher level than it went in. With a pitifully low price-to-earnings of 7.5 and dividend yield topping 4 percent, there’s still plenty of room for upside.

Eupraxia Pharmaceuticals

Victoria’s Eupraxia Pharma (TSX:EPRX) more than doubled its stock price in November when it announced a Phase 2 trial of its drug candidate EP-104IAR, designed for the treatment of eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), or chronic inflammation of the esophagus. The drug was originally developed to treat osteoarthritis of the knee, but the addition of some 150,000 EoE cases in the United States alone to its potential applications had Raymond James analyst Rahul Sarugaser raising his target price for the stock by $2, to $9. Should the drug advance to Phase 3 trials and ultimately U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, it could be worth more than US$2 billion, Sarugaser estimated.

Artemis GoldArtemis Gold

Artemis Gold

This is the year Vancouver’s Artemis Gold (TSXV:ARTG) begins construction of its Blackwater mine, southwest of Vanderhoof. The first gold pour is targeted for the third quarter of 2024. So it’s fair to say it’s a make-or-break time for the till-now junior mining company. And, yes, there is still a risk of breakage. Consider the fate of Pure Gold Mining, another Vancouver-based junior that went bankrupt last fall just 18 months after commencing production at its Madsen mine in Ontario. But let’s not dwell on the negative. Containing an estimated 8 million ounces of gold, Blackwater is expected to be in production for more than 20 years.

Village Farms International

At one point, B.C. bud had a commanding presence in licensed cannabis cultivation. But the province lost the likes of Tilray and the Valens Company to consolidation after the industry came down from its 2018 legalization high. We’re left with Delta-based Village Farms (NASDAQ:VFF) which, to its credit, had more than three decades’ experience growing vegetables and cut flowers in greenhouses before turning to weed. Other growers are starting to show real profits (not just the International Financial Reporting Standards kind) and even Morningstar thinks the subsector is undervalued. Will 2023 be the year Village Farms and its ilk get their, er, organic fertilizer together and start rewarding investors? “We are starting to see blue sky,” said president and CEO Michael DeGiglio in a keynote to the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference in September.

Kits Eyecare

Roger Hardy’s second kick at eyeglass and contacts e-tail broke even in the third quarter of 2022, posting a lens-thin profit of $20,000. Can Kits Eyecare (TSX:KITS) move definitively into the black in 2023? Past experience might put that into doubt, after the multinational buyers of Hardy’s first such venture, Clearly, disparaged the state of the company they took over in 2014. And we won’t go into the debacle at Shoes.com in 2017. But they say you learn more from your failures than your successes. We’ll look for better results in ’23.


Thinkific Labs 

Count Vancouver-based Thinkific (TSX:THNC) as one of the stocks hammered hardest by the market’s sudden disdain for information technology startups: the company lost some 80 percent of its market value in 2022. But as the calendar turns to 2023, the punishment in this case looks a little overdone. By December, the online education platform ranked high in a “net-net” screen of Canadian stocks for having more net working capital than its market capitalization, one of value investing founding father Benjamin Graham’s favourite gauges of hidden worth. Meanwhile, revenues continue to grow (up 34 percent year-over-year in the latest quarter), even if the march toward profitability looks uneven.

Hive Blockchain Technologies 

This isn’t so much about Hive Blockchain (TSX, NASDAQ:HIVE). It’s about whether any cryptocurrency startup will be able to survive the November collapse of FTX, the Bahamas-based crypto exchange operator that, until recently, was worth tens of billions of dollars. We’re not placing our bets on WonderFi Technologies (TSX:WNDR), another exchange, this one based in B.C. and backed by celebrity financier Kevin “Mr. Wonderful” O’Leary. But Hive, which runs low-emission bitcoin and ethereum data centres, just might persevere. Its revenues are way down with the prices of the two leading cryptocurrencies but could snap back with renewed demand for the digital tokens.