If you bought shares of Teladoc Health (TDOC 0.05%) at almost any point in the last three years, you’re sitting on some gnarly losses right about now. The stock is down by nearly 60% this year, and after a weak earnings report published on July 27, investors are bound to be looking for the door, or at least wondering if there’s any relief in sight.
It’s clear that telehealth is enormously popular. As a type of service, it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. But whether Teladoc can successfully compete within telehealth is a different and more contentious issue. Is its stock hopeless, or are its current issues just bumps in the road?
Why things look a bit hopeless right now
Since the pandemic started, telehealth has become huge, and Teladoc is capturing consumer enthusiasm for remote care by offering its talk-with-a-doctor-on-demand service as a subscription. But its business model is far from being proven, and the company appears to be feeling some serious growing pains. Its second-quarter results weren’t exactly what investors were looking for, to say the least.
While its Q2 revenue rose by 18% year over year to reach $592.4 million, its adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) fell by a somewhat shocking 30%. That caused it to badly whiff compared to what financial analysts were expecting, and its stock clocked at least four rating downgrades since July 28 as a result. Company leaders didn’t offer any specific explanation for this performance in the earnings release, save for a brief reference to macroeconomic instability made in passing.
Perhaps the biggest bombshell is that Teladoc dramatically revised its earnings estimates downward. Whereas before it held that its net earnings per share (EPS) would be as low as a loss of $43.50 per share, it now expects a loss of between $61 and $62 per share. The company also clarified its non-adjusted EBITDA guidance, saying that it now expects full-year performance to fall near the lower end of the range, which runs from a loss of $41 million to a gain of $8 million. In short, 2022 is going nothing like what management said it would, and it’s no surprise that investors are thinking about dumping the stock.
There’s still some hope for the future
The earnings update wasn’t all bad, and it confirmed that a number of good trends in the company’s performance are continuing to chug along. In Q2, Teladoc grew its membership base by 2.3 million subscribers to reach 56.6 million paid members, and it also made an average of $2.60 in revenue per subscriber, up from $2.52 in the prior quarter and $2.31 in the prior year.
Both of those tidbits are highly positive. Adding to its membership increases its base of revenue significantly, and making more money from each member means that it’ll have less trouble breaking even. Furthermore, its rate of service utilization by subscribers also increased, reaching 24%. That’s favorable because members who are using the service are likely to be getting value from it, thereby increasing retention, and it also means that there will be more opportunities to upsell them on the company’s other programs.
The other piece of good news is that its gross margin slightly increased year over year, though it remains unprofitable. If Teladoc can keep squeezing more revenue out of each member while expanding its membership and retaining its current subscribers — all of which it has done consistently over time — it’ll keep expanding its margin and eventually reach sustained profitability, and that’ll be a major boon for the stock.
But don’t expect profitability or a total turnaround of its recent fortunes anytime soon. Recovery of its share price compared to its highs in early 2021 is likely to be very slow as there aren’t any obvious catalysts on the horizon that would cause the market to dramatically reevaluate its stock to the upside. As more competitors enter the telehealth scene, it’s possible that margins will eventually fall under pressure again.
For now, it’s likely that the rest of 2022 will be a wash for shareholders. In 2023, the situation may continue to change for the better, though without a fuller account from management about exactly what went wrong in Q2, it’s hard to be super optimistic.