This has been a wild year, yet one filled with opportunity for long-term investors. We saw about a decade's worth of volatility packed into a six-month stretch, which gave long-term-minded investors the opportunity to scoop up high-quality and innovative businesses at a discount.
But the thing about innovative businesses is that even when they appear pricey, they're often a bargain. Since winners keep winning over the long run, many of today's pricey but game-changing investments will prove to be bargains when looking back three, five, or 10 years down the line.
The one stock I'm the most excited about right now happens to be one of these exceptionally pricey companies on a fundamental basis. However, if you look past this company's rough-around-the-edges income statement, you'll find that it's on the leading edge of innovation in the healthcare space and could redefine personal treatment this decade and beyond.
Investors, say hello to my investment crush, Teladoc Health (TDOC 5.57%).
Teladoc Health: Redefining patient care
Throughout this decade, precision medicine should be the single biggest growth driver in the healthcare space. Precision medicine involves moving away from one-size-fits-all treatments and, instead, personalizing treatment plans to specific patients. This includes improving patient convenience and quality of life.
Teladoc Health is the largest publicly traded telemedicine company in the United States. Based on Wall Street's estimates for 2020, and Teladoc's penchant for surpassing sales expectations, full-year revenue is expected to rise from roughly $20 million in 2013 to $1 billion this year. That's a compound annual growth rate of 75% over the last seven years. Not too shabby.
There's no question that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has propelled Teladoc's virtual visit metrics. In the June-ended quarter, the company recognized 2.8 million total visits, which slightly more than tripled the number of visits from the year-ago quarter. With physicians wanting to keep potentially COVID-19-infected patients, as well as at-risk patients (those with chronic illnesses) out of their offices, telemedicine has become a logical platform for doctors and their patients to connect.
But take note that Teladoc Health was relevant way before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Paid memberships and visit-fees (i.e., those without a membership) were on the rise between 2013 and 2019. That's because there's valued offered by telemedicine up and down the healthcare response chain. It's more convenient for the patient, and it presumably provides time-savings for both patients and physicians. Health insurers also prefer virtual visits since they're generally cheaper than in-office appointments.
Teladoc + Livongo Health = A match made in high-growth heaven
However, the ownership proposition for Teladoc Health became even more pronounced in August when the company announced that it would acquire applied health signals company Livongo Health (LVGO) for $18.5 billion in a cash-and-stock deal.
Livongo Health's goal is to help patients with chronic illnesses lead healthier lives. It does this by collecting mountains of data on its patients and, with the help of artificial intelligence, sends these members tips and nudges. These nudges are used to keep patients on track, whether that's checking their blood glucose levels or eating right.
For the time being, Livongo Health has focused all of its attention on people with diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 34.2 million people have diabetes in the U.S. (10.5% of the U.S. population), with another 88 million adults showing symptoms of prediabetes. This is a massive patient pool, and Livongo has already signed up more than 410,000 diabetics as part of its subscription service.
Think about this for a moment: Prior to Livongo Health agreeing to be acquired, it had produced three consecutive adjusted quarterly profits and consistently doubled or nearly doubled its Diabetes member count from the prior-year period. It did this despite having penetrated only 1.2% of the Diabetes market in the United States. Livongo's healthcare solutions have utility in diabetes, prediabetes, hypertension, and weight management, among other broad-pool indications. If Livongo is already profitable with around 1% of diabetes market share, imagine what it's capable of when other indications are added and Diabetes member count grows organically.
A taste of what's to come
Just how exciting will the Teladoc-Livongo combination be? Investors actually got a teaser two weeks ago.
On Oct. 12, Livongo announced that it was leveraging Teladoc's existing relationship with Guidewell Health -- the parent of Florida Blue, which operates Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in the Sunshine State -- to forge its own partnership with the insurer. Under the deal, Guidewell is going to offer approximately 50,000 Florida Blue members access to Livongo's leading Diabetes solutions with no copay. Based solely on the company's June-ended Diabetes count, that's an immediate subscriber boost of 12%. Florida Blue patients will have access to Teladoc's virtual care and Livongo's applied health solutions, which marks the duo's first cross-selling agreement.
Keep in mind that there is some give and take with the Livongo buyout. For instance, Teladoc has been aggressively reinvesting in its virtual visit platform, which means the combined company will likely lose money into 2022. That'll be a bit disheartening for Livongo Health shareholders who've already seen their company make the turn to recurring profitability.
But the combined company can still offer insane growth potential. Individually, Teladoc was pegged for $2.58 billion in full-year revenue in 2024, with Livongo Health expected to generate $1.8 billion that same year. This suggests a pro forma tripling in sales between 2020 and 2024 for the combined company. But these estimates don't include the potential to cross-sell to existing clients. It's quite possible we could be talking about a healthcare stock with more than $5 billion in annual recurring revenue by 2024, up from less than $1.4 billion in pro forma sales (based on Wall Street's consensus) in 2020.
There's just not a more exciting stock on Wall Street right now.