If you're the kind of person who looks at a glass of water as half empty, 2020 has been disastrous for SmileDirectClub (NASDAQ:SDC). Its stock has been cut in half from its highs in February. On the other hand, if you see a glass of water as half full, you'll probably focus on the fact that the teledentistry provider's shares are only down 13% year to date in the midst of a global pandemic.
Regardless of your predisposition toward optimism or pessimism, SmileDirectClub's first-quarter results reported after the market closed probably didn't make you happy. Here are three reasons no one's smiling about the company's Q1 update.
1. Weak revenue growth
At first glance, you might think that SmileDirectClub's revenue increasing by 11% year over year in the first quarter to $197 million wasn't too bad. But compared to the company's track record, it was horrible.
In the fourth quarter of 2019, for example, SDC generated year-over-year revenue growth of more than 53%. The quarter before that, the company's revenue jumped 50.6%.
SmileDirectClub shareholders are also accustomed to seeing solid quarter-over-quarter sales growth. This time around, the company only matched its revenue total from the previous quarter with no growth at all. SDC's revenue also fell far short of the average analysts' estimate of $219.5 million.
There's no mystery why the company failed to meet expectations. The COVID-19 pandemic hit SmileDirectClub hard, with the company temporarily closing all of its SmileShops except those in Hong Kong.
2. A worse-than-expected loss
No one expected that SmileDirectClub would post a profit in the first quarter. But they weren't looking for a big of a loss as the company reported.
SDC announced a Q1 net loss of $107 million, or $0.28 per diluted share. The consensus Wall Street view was for the company to post a net loss of $0.19 per share in the first quarter. SmileDirectClub reported a net loss of $20.5 million in the prior-year period.
The company took several actions to cut costs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to closing its SmileShops, SmileDirectClub suspended most of its marketing spending, furloughed many of its workers, and its executive and leadership teams are foregoing pay. However, these steps didn't occur early enough to impact the company's expenses in the first quarter.
3. Uncertainty about the future
Probably the biggest concern for SmileDirectClub shareholders right now is the uncertainty about the future. It's usually not a good sign when a company's CEO uses the phrase "challenging times" twice in the first two statements in its press release announcing quarterly results as David Katzman did in SDC's Q1 press release.
SmileDirectClub said that it "has seen robust performance in its impression kit business" since the first quarter even with its steep cut in marketing spending. What was this "robust performance"? Kit and scan volume has dropped around 40%. That's not going to give anyone a warm-and-fuzzy feeling, even with marketing spending reduced by 90% over the past 60 days.
The company really needs more states to reopen for business. It needs its SmileShops open again. It needs consumers to regain confidence -- and have money to spend on clear aligners. The problem is that no one knows for sure how long it will take for all of these things to happen. Expect the healthcare stock to remain highly volatile in the meantime.
Some good news
Now for at least a little good news. Thanks to a new debt facility, SmileDirectClub will have around $420 million in cash. This move boosts the company's liquidity, gives it more flexibility than the previous debt facility, and reduces the need to raise money through stock offerings that dilute the value of existing shares.
SDC also picked up a reimbursement deal with major health insurer Anthem last week. This expands coverage for the company's teledentistry services.
These positive developments aren't enough to offset SmileDirectClub's COVID-19 headwinds. But, to return to our earlier analogy, some water in a glass is better than no water at all.