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September Sell-Off: Is Teladoc Health a Buy While It's Down?

By Rich Duprey – Updated Sep 21, 2021 at 5:02PM

Key Points

  • Teladoc Health's stock was already significantly discounted before the market's recent slide.
  • Wall Street has doubts about whether the telemedicine giant will be able to sustain its previous growth rates.
  • Management has offered encouraging results that indicate the company still has a long runway ahead of it.

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The telehealth leader's shares tumbled much further than the broad market indexes on Monday.

Any time the Dow Jones Industrial Average drops by 600 points in a day, that's a good time for investors to pause and reflect -- even if that now represents a less than 2% decline for the index. At the very least, such drop-offs can serve as a reminder to re-evaluate the stocks that you own and confirm that they are solid businesses built for the long haul.

Day traders certainly have reason to be freaked out by such swift downdrafts, but investors holding strong companies for the long term have nothing to fear. While market corrections happen on a regular basis, they tend not to last long, relatively speaking. As the old adage goes, it's time in the market, not timing the market, that counts the most.

Teladoc Health (TDOC 1.72%) also declined during the recent slide -- in fact, on a percentage basis, its fall was three times as great as the Dow's (before rebounding today). So is this a good time to buy it?

Doctor conferring with a patient on a tablet computer

Image source: Getty Images.

A shot in the arm

The virtual healthcare specialist got a big boost last year because it allowed patients to consult with doctors while providing the necessary degree of social distancing as the country struggled to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the process, though, a large swath of the population discovered that Teladoc also added a massive dose of convenience to seeing a doctor. Scheduling convenient times, avoiding overbooked waiting rooms, and staying comfortable at home convinced millions that telemedicine was an idea whose time had come.

Wall Street, though, isn't so sure about the lasting impact of the huge uptick in virtual visits Teladoc enjoyed last year, which accounts for why its stock is down 53% from the highs it hit in February and is off 30% year to date.

Unseen side effects

The short-term thesis for Teladoc is that as COVID-19 variants of concern continue to plague us, the world can expect more surges even after the current one diminishes. Many experts believe that even as larger percentages of the world population get vaccinated, the coronavirus may be something we're just going to have to live with, though it is predicted to become less dangerous and deadly over time.

Telemedicine will continue to promote peace of mind, enabling doctor visits without requiring patients to be in close proximity to other sick and potentially infectious individuals. It could very well become the primary way we seek out non-emergency medical advice in the future.

In the second quarter, Teladoc facilitated 3.5 million patient visits, 28% more than it did in the prior-year period, which was during the first wave of the pandemic. Even as people have become more comfortable going out in public again this year, they are still choosing to use Teladoc's services. 

The healthcare delivery system of the future

Longer term, telehealth services will give doctors easier and earlier access to patients, particularly those who are chronically ill and need more intensive oversight from their physicians.

Teladoc was already demonstrating its growth potential before the pandemic struck. Revenue increased at an average annual rate of 65% between 2016 and 2019, and then it doubled last year. In 2021, total revenue is up 127% year to date.

Obviously, Teladoc can't grow at such meteoric rates forever, but its history shows there was a large unmet need it was filling even before the world turned upside down, and both patients and doctors liked what they found when they used the service.

With Teladoc Health's stock down even further now in the wake of the broad market sell-off, this healthcare stock remains a buy.

Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Teladoc Health. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Stocks Mentioned

Teladoc Health Stock Quote
Teladoc Health
TDOC
$29.00 (1.72%) $0.49

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