Stocks that emphasize social distancing have been very popular this year amid the coronavirus pandemic. One stock that's been particularly popular is Teladoc Health (TDOC -2.48%), which provides users with access to virtual care. The stock is up more than 120% since the beginning of the year and it's dwarfed the S&P 500, which is still down 13% during the same period.
However, as much as shares of Teladoc have already soared, it still may not be too late to jump aboard the bandwagon by buying the stock. Here are three reasons why it could continue to climb even higher.
1. The pandemic is far from over and demand is likely to remain strong
COVID-19 is having a tremendous effect on the company's operations. On April 14, Teladoc provided investors with a preview of its first-quarter results, which it is set to release on April 29. The company said that it's seen "an unprecedented surge in demand for its services" and that it's been averaging more than 20,000 virtual medical visits every day. And it's not just existing members using the service, as over 60% of visits are from new users who have not used the platform in the past.
This could be just the beginning of a much stronger trend, as the pandemic isn't showing signs of slowing. Until there's a vaccine, which could take well over a year to develop and test in clinics adequately, COVID-19 is still going to be a problem that prevents the world from returning to normal. And that means social distancing is going to be important and Teladoc's services are likely to continue seeing strong demand.
2. Demand could remain long after COVID-19
Teladoc is strong right now because people are looking to social distance and are avoiding visiting hospitals and doctor's offices. After all, if you can have access to a doctor 24/7, and with a consultation just a phone call away, it's much more attractive than going into a crowded waiting room full of people for a visit that may only last a few minutes. Consumer preferences are changing and shifting toward convenience, and healthcare could be part of a larger trend. Whether it's food delivery apps, watching movies at home, or same-day delivery of purchases, there was a growing need for convenience even before COVID-19.
Demand for telehealth will remain long after COVID-19, and investors should see Teladoc as a much longer-term investment than a social distancing stock to buy and hold only during the pandemic. The stock offers significant value to consumers. Patients can even use Teladoc if they don't have insurance -- virtual doctor visits start as low as $75, allowing users to access a licensed doctor at any time of day via phone or video call.
The ease of accessing health services could be a big selling point. According to census data from 2018, there were 27.5 million Americans, or 8.5% of the population, who didn't have health insurance at some point during the year.
3. The company's shown strong growth even before the coronavirus crisis
In 2019, Teladoc's sales totaled $553 million. That was a 32% increase from the prior year and more than double the $233 million that Teladoc generated in 2017.
One area that's been seeing a lot of growth has been in international subscriptions. In 2017, the company's revenue from that segment was just $18.3 million, or 7.9% of its total sales that year. In 2019, that number's grown to $106.6 million, accounting for 19.3% of revenue. U.S. subscription fees nearly doubled from $179.2 million to $356.7 million during that time, and that segment's percentage of revenue fell from 76.8% to 64.5%.
As of Dec. 31, 2019, more than 40% of Fortune 500 companies used Teladoc's services, including big names like Bank of America (BAC -0.36%) and T-Mobile (TMUS 0.90%). With 36.7 million members thus far, Teladoc expects that number to grow to 75 million, and that's just through its existing clients. There's even more potential growth for the company as it becomes a bigger name in the healthcare industry.
Teladoc is a solid long-term buy
There are some great reasons to invest in Teladoc today, and they all center around the company's potential long-term growth. From a convenience perspective, virtual care and telehealth services are here to stay, and that's why as well as Teladoc's done this year, it's unlikely that the stock has peaked.
There's still much more growth to come from this healthcare stock, and investors can still earn great returns if they buy shares of the company today.