Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Can Teladoc Health Stock Start Climbing Again?

By Cory Renauer – Jul 29, 2021 at 6:47AM

Key Points

  • Teladoc Health reported second-quarter sales that more than doubled compared to the previous-year period when COVID-19 lockdowns were in full effect.
  • While still a leader in the digital health space, it looks like acquiring new clients is getting a lot more difficult than it was just a year ago.

Motley Fool Issues Rare “All In” Buy Alert

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Slowing growth in the face of exploding competition for digital health services should have investors more than a little concerned.

Shares of Teladoc Health (TDOC -3.40%) initially fell after a second-quarter earnings report that looked pretty good on its surface. Total revenue more than doubled year over year, allowing the company to raise revenue expectations.

Teladoc Health was able to report a great deal of growth in the second quarter, but a slew of well-funded competitors entering the digital health space has investors worried about the future. This stock can climb, but the company will need to convince investors it can overcome these major challenges.

Investor looking at a stock chart.

Image source: Getty Images.

Rising customer acquisition costs

BetterHelp is an increasingly important component of Teladoc's growth strategy, but acquiring new customers is a lot more difficult now than it was a year ago. The recent stock market debut of Talkspace (TALK -3.23%) gave Teladoc's rival $250 million to compete with BetterHelp.

Nimble start-ups like Talkspace aren't the only type of challenge to Teladoc's dominance of the burgeoning market for long-distance mental health services. America's largest healthcare benefits manager, UnitedHealth Group (UNH 1.49%), recently launched a mental health service to compete with Teladoc and Talkspace. UnitedHealth Group's operations earned $6.0 billion during the second quarter, giving the company all the resources it needs to compete with Teladoc Health for the attention of employers.

Employers and other healthcare plan sponsors are currently getting bombarded with offers to join a slew of new digital health services. This is why Teladoc's already slim profit margin appears on the verge of getting even thinner. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) came in at $66.8 million during the second quarter. That was only $10.2 million more than the previous quarter and it isn't getting better. The company also told investors to expect adjusted EBITDA to contract in the third quarter by providing a guided range between $60 million and $65 million.

Slow chronic care enrollment

Last year, Teladoc Health made a huge bet on the future of chronic care management by merging with Livongo Health. Unfortunately, chronic care enrollment and utilization metrics are decelerating. Enrollment rose by just 57,000 in the second quarter, compared to 64,000 during the first quarter.

Livongo uses smartwatches, blood sugar monitors, and other internet-enabled devices to track patients and inform their behavior. The number of new data points registered devices gave the company's AI engine to chew on in the second quarter rose 18% to 1.72 billion. The same metric rose 29% to 1.13 billion during the previous quarter.

Time to jump?

Despite losing nearly half its value since a peak in February, big growth expectations are still baked into Teladoc Health's stock price. The company's $22.9 billion market cap at recent prices works out to around 87 times the midpoint of management's adjusted EBITDA expectations for all of 2021.

Teladoc Health's sky-high valuation isn't so high that this healthcare stock can't provide market-beating gains. But competition with private insurance giants like UnitedHealth Group that are entering the digital health space means investors might not see any profits for the foreseeable future.

Now isn't the time to dump Teladoc Health shares if you're a long-term shareholder. If you're looking for healthcare stocks to buy, though, it won't be hard to find better options right now.

Cory Renauer has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Teladoc Health. The Motley Fool recommends UnitedHealth Group. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Teladoc Health Stock Quote
Teladoc Health
$27.60 (-3.40%) $0.97
UnitedHealth Group Stock Quote
UnitedHealth Group
$537.62 (1.49%) $7.91
Talkspace, Inc. Stock Quote
Talkspace, Inc.
$0.60 (-3.23%) $0.02

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 11/26/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.