Fears around the economic impacts of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak continue to wreak havoc on financial markets, with stocks experiencing extreme volatility for the second consecutive week. Many tech companies in particular have increased risk exposure to the epidemic, especially those that manufacture consumer electronics, as that sector's supply chain is heavily concentrated in China, where the outbreak began.
But not all tech stocks will suffer adverse impacts from the crisis. In fact, some companies may even see their businesses benefit from the dire situation. Here are 3 tech stocks that are safe from the coronavirus fallout: Lyft (LYFT 0.63%), Teladoc (TDOC -4.67%), and Zoom Video Communications (ZM 2.06%).
Speaking earlier this month at a Keybanc tech conference, Lyft CFO Brian Roberts said the coronavirus had not been hurting Lyft's core ridesharing business. That may sound counterintuitive, as many companies in the travel and transportation industry are seeing demand for their services drop precipitously, but Lyft only operates in North America, where the spread of the virus has been relatively limited compared with other parts of the world.
Larger rival Uber is absorbing more of the brunt from reduced international travel, since Uber operates in many more countries. As a result, international travelers coming to the U.S. are generally more likely to take an Uber than a Lyft, so the drop in international travel will hurt Uber more than Lyft. In addition, riders in many urban markets are shifting from public transit toward private transportation like ridesharing in an effort to mitigate potential exposure to the virus, which led to the "biggest week" in Lyft's history in terms of revenue and rides.
The finance chief reiterated Lyft's guidance for the first quarter. However, the coronavirus is now starting to spread more within the U.S., so there is still a possibility that Lyft's ridesharing business may be affected beyond the first quarter.
Providing virtual healthcare remotely through its technology platform, Teladoc is as much a tech company as it is a healthcare provider. The company has already been putting up strong growth, reporting solid fourth-quarter results last month that showed a 61% jump in total U.S. paid memberships to 36.7 million, which helped drive subscription revenue 29% higher for the year.
U.S. health officials have advocated for greater use of telehealth services amid the outbreak, and lawmakers last week passed an $8.3 billion bill that would temporarily eliminate coverage restrictions for Medicare patients accessing telehealth services. President Trump signed the emergency spending bill on Friday.
Teladoc's guidance for the first quarter calls for revenue of $169 million to $172 million, and U.S. paid memberships are expected to reach 40 million to 41 million. On the earnings call, CFO Mala Murthy noted that Teladoc had not incorporated coronavirus-related tailwinds into its guidance, so there could be even more upside as the situation rapidly unfolds.
In response to the outbreak, many companies are urging employees to work remotely whenever possible. That bodes well for enterprise collaboration companies like Zoom Video, which is helping employees stay productive while working from home.
Zoom crushed estimates when it reported fourth-quarter results last week, growing its customer base by 61% to nearly 82,000. The number of large customers spending over $100,000 per year soared 865 to 641 and Zoom continues to expand existing customer relationships with a net dollar expansion rate over 130%.
"While this tragic situation is very fluid, Zoom is focused on using our resources to help alleviate some of the disruption and communication challenges as an alternative to in-person meetings for our employees, customers and community," CEO Eric Yuan said on the conference call with analysts. CFO Kelly Steckelberg added that the epidemic has driven "significant usage" to Zoom's platform, although much of that usage is coming from free users and it's unclear if those users will ultimately convert to paying customers.
Yuan doesn't believe the higher usage will be temporary. Instead, the outbreak is underscoring a broader shift toward remote work. "I actually believe in the future, everyone will turn on to video for the remote workers for the collaboration," according to Yuan.