1 Growth Stock Down 76% to Buy and Hold

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Telemedicine specialist Teladoc (TDOC 1.33%) can’t catch a break. After a horrible, no-good first-quarter earnings report that sent its shares tumbling, the healthcare company is suffering the same fate following the release of its second-quarter results.

Of course, Teladoc’s issues in the stock market started before 2022, and the company’s shares have been southbound for the past 12 months. Despite Teladoc’s problems, there are good reasons to stick with the telehealth leader. Let’s consider why.

TDOC data by YCharts

Losses pile up, but there is a catch

As in the first quarter, the ugliest metric in Teladoc’s results this time was its net loss. The company was deep in the red — reporting a negative bottom line of $3.1 billion. Teladoc’s net loss during the second quarter of 2021 was $133.8 million.But there is more to the story. By comparison, Teladoc’s latest net loss was almost entirely due to a $3 billion non-cash goodwill impairment charge.

That also mirrors the company’s first-quarter earnings, when the miss on the bottom line was due to goodwill. Teladoc overpaid for its 2020 acquisition of Livongo Health, and it is now paying for that error. But it is at least encouraging to see that the company’s ugly net loss is related to non-cash expenses that do not necessarily reflect the state of its day-to-day operations. 

Growing in important areas

While Teladoc’s bottom line was disappointing, the company posted improvements in other key metrics during the quarter. Revenue jumped by 18% year over year to $592.4 million. Teladoc’s gross margin based on generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) came in at 68.2%, compared to 67.9% during the year-ago period.

Adjusted gross margin increased by a little more than one percentage point year over year to 69.2%. The telemedicine specialist continues to grow its total visits, which jumped by an impressive 28% year over year to 4.7 million. Further, Teladoc’s U.S. paid memberships increased by 9% year over year to 56.6 million, while average U.S. revenue per member grew by 12.6% year over year to $2.60.

Teladoc’s membership growth is significant as it helps strengthen its competitive advantage. The more patients are plugged into its network — be it via individual memberships or a third-party payer such as an insurance company — the more it attracts physicians onto the network, and vice-versa.

Teladoc will need a strong competitive edge to remain a leader in the telemedicine industry, especially as companies like Amazon seem to be throwing their hats into this ring. By the looks of it, Teladoc is making progress in that regard. That’s why it’s essential to look beyond the company’s goodwill-driven net losses. 

Don’t lose perspective

What’s next for Teladoc? The company’s shares have plunged substantially in the past year. Things could get worse before they get better, given the challenging macroeconomic environment we face that is marked by inflation and other factors. And in this environment, the market will likely abandon unprofitable companies first. In other words, investors should brace for challenging times ahead.

But as a shareholder, selling my shares of Teladoc isn’t an option I am considering. The telemedicine giant has made substantial progress since the pre-pandemic days. It has gained more members, increased its visits, and increased U.S. revenue per member, partly because patients enroll in more and more of its services when they see their benefits. Teladoc is now in a much stronger position than before the coronavirus outbreak swept the world. It will continue to ride the wave of telemedicine, an industry set to grow rapidly due to the convenience of the services it offers.

And yet, Teladoc’s shares are trading for less than half of what they were in early 2020. This looks like an opportunity for investors, at least for those patient ones who will hold the stock for five or more years. Teladoc looks like an excellent stock to buy if your goal is the long game.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Prosper Junior Bakiny has positions in Amazon and Teladoc Health. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Amazon and Teladoc Health. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.