Virtual healthcare provider Teladoc Health (TDOC -6.99%) reported fourth-quarter earnings that beat expectations and gave strong guidance for the year ahead, propelling the stock up 15% in after-hours trading Wednesday. Revenue grew 27% to $156 million, above the top end of guidance the company issued three months ago and above the $153 million analysts were expecting. The company lost $0.26 per share, compared with Wall Street expectations for a loss of $0.33.
Teladoc gets most of its revenue from recurring subscription-access fees, and that revenue grew 24% to $127 million. Revenue from visit fees grew even faster, up 47% to $29.5 million, reflecting the fact that established users make more visits over time as they grow more comfortable with the service. Total visits grew 44% to 1.24 million, above guidance of 1.0 million to 1.2 million.
Teladoc added 1.7 million paid members in the U.S. in Q4 for a total of 36.7 million, a 5% increase since Q3 and 61% above the membership total a year ago.
Guidance for next quarter and for the full year was well above what analysts had been thinking. The company expects revenue in Q1 to be $169 million to $172 million, compared with the $164 million analyst consensus. For 2020, Teladoc anticipates revenue between $695 million and $710 million, well above expectations of $693 million.
Teladoc Health stock has had a great 2020 so far, up 40% as of the close Wednesday. Part of the reason for investor optimism is the potential impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus, which could cause patients to seek remote health solutions rather than visiting waiting rooms.
The warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday gave a boost to Teladoc stock, since it said that healthcare facilities should be prepared to increase the use of telehealth systems. When asked on the conference call, Teladoc management said that its guidance doesn't yet include impact from COVID-19, leaving open the possibility of even further improvement in the company's outlook should the virus spread to the U.S.