The 1999 comedy Runaway Bride featured Julia Roberts as a thrice-engaged fiancee who always gets cold feet before tying the knot. Spoiler: After breaking a total of five engagements, her character ends up marrying the movie's leading man, Richard Gere.

Many Livongo (LVGO) investors are hoping the company gets cold feet before its pending union with Teladoc (TDOC 0.26%). The companies expect the $18.5 billion merger to close by the end of the year. Given this on the horizon, it's no wonder investors are asking, "Is it too late to buy Livongo stock?" The answer may surprise you.

Man using glucose meter

Image source: Getty Images.

Growing like a weed

Livongo uses technology and data to help those with chronic conditions lead healthier lives. Its platform helps members by using connected devices to gather and analyze data and give them nudges based on the readings. Most notable is the company's management of blood glucose for diabetes patients, which has been confirmed in several peer-reviewed studies. The company now boasts over 410,000 members and more than 30% of the Fortune 500 as clients.

Something else to brag about: Members love it. The company's "net promoter score" -- a measure of customer loyalty -- is +64. This is rare territory. For comparison, Amazon's NOS is +62 and Netflix's is +68.

Livongo's $260 million trailing 12-month revenue is a drop in the bucket compared to the larger market opportunity. A 2018 Milken Institute study estimated chronic conditions cost the U.S. economy $3.7 trillion annually. Management estimates Livongo's immediately addressable portion of that at $46.7 billion. It's no surprise that a remote healthcare company like Teladoc was interested in acquiring Livongo.

An offer you can't refuse

In early August, Teladoc offered a multifaceted deal valued at $18.5 billion. The official offer is 0.592 shares of Teladoc and $11.33 in cash for each share of Livongo. This ties the value of the acquisition to the price of Teladoc shares. Although both stock prices have had wild swings since the deal was announced, it's doubtful the merger will be called off. If it is, though, Livongo will owe Teladoc almost $563 million, more than twice what the former company had in the bank at the end of 2019.

Teladoc had put together almost five years of impressive revenue growth since going public, but the growth rate dropped significantly in 2019 to 32%. That number is still impressive, but it pales in comparison to the 60% to 80% annual growth Teladoc enjoyed from its 2015 IPO through 2018.

Teladoc, meanwhile, has long had a desire to expand into chronic disease management, with CEO Jason Gorevic noting that his company and Livongo were likely to end up partnering on -- or competing for -- chronic disease care in the future. Now, with the companies under one umbrella, analysts believe they can potentially offer one access point for end-to-end patient care. Perhaps that is why Livongo shareholders were tepid on the deal, wanting a higher premium for the privilege of being swallowed up by the slower-growing telehealth provider.

It's not too late, but it may be a little early

At the beginning of 2020, the combined companies were worth $8.5 billion. One pandemic and a merger later, and the combined entity is valued at $37 billion. Currently, adding the companies' market capitalizations equals around $33 billion, still a significant premium to where we started the year. Analysts estimate that the combined company could grow annual sales between 30% to 40% per year. That seems conservative, given that Livongo increased revenue 125% in the quarter ending June 30, 2020. The company has grown near this pace or above since its IPO in summer 2019.

Both management teams plan to release third-quarter results Oct. 28 after market hours. It will be fascinating to see how the market reacts to any changes in either of the companies' growth rates. In many areas, COVID-19 case counts were trending downward during the July to September quarter, and patients and providers have proven adaptable, meaning growth rates will likely to be down significantly from the second quarter for Teladoc. If you believe in Livongo, you may get an opportunity to pick up shares at a better price after earnings.

Regardless of the stock prices, the combined company will be a force in the future of healthcare. The coronavirus pandemic has only accelerated the transition to remote visits and monitoring. Whether the focus is routine visits or chronic health management, investors need to have exposure to the telehealth trend. Livongo is not likely to be a runaway bride, but investors should choose its shares over Teladoc's just in case it does gets cold feet.