It's been quite the fall from grace for Teladoc Health (TDOC -0.07%). Two years ago it was celebrated as the thinking investor's play on the pandemic. With doctors' offices shuttered and hospitals overrun, telehealth emerged as a way for folks to receive remote medical care on their terms. It's a different story now.
Teladoc shares have plummeted 59% this year, down a whopping 88% since peaking in early 2021. With growth slowing, losses mounting, competitive threats gaining, and impairment charges climbing, it's not just the goodwill on its balance sheet that's getting marked down.
Coming off yet another disappointing financial report two weeks ago, a lot of investors are walking away from the company that connects medical pros with those seeking consultations around the clock at a fraction of an in-office visit. There are still some people that believe in Teladoc, arguing that now is the best time to be a buyer. Let's take a closer look at three of them.
1. Cathie Wood
Let's start with the CEO, co-founder, and main stock picker for the Ark Invest family of growth ETFs. Cathie Wood became a legend following her market-thumping returns in 2020, but her knack for finding disruptive growth stocks has fallen flat the last two years. Teladoc has been one of her favorite investments, and she has been buying heavily on the way down.
She has added to her Teladoc stake in four of her ETFs in each of the first four trading days of this week. Despite the stock's massive plunge over the past year and a half, it's still the fourth-largest holding across Wood's combined ETF investments. She now owns roughly 11.8% of the entire company, something that can definitely depress the stock even more if she starts selling. Many of her top holdings are down more than 80% from their 2021 highs. This isn't Wood's finest hour, but it's hard to argue against her logic. Telehealth is still a growing industry.
2. Robert Simmons
There was a consensus of retreat by Wall Street pros when Teladoc posted its problematic financial results two weeks ago. At least seven analysts slashed their price targets following the report. There were four outright downgrades. This week we saw someone move in a different direction. DA Davidson analyst Robert Simmons initiated coverage of Teladoc with a buy rating on Thursday.
He argues that Teladoc is the leader in telehealth, achieving scale and a differentiated package of offerings. His price target of $45 isn't very ambitious. It's just 18% above where it closed on Thursday. However, it is a bullish initiation for a stock that Simmons feels will continue to lead the evolution of telehealth.
3. Well, uh, me
Let me start with a tweet of mine from 11 months ago that most definitely didn't age well:
#Teladoc acquired the smaller #Livongo a year ago in an $18.5 billion stock deal. Over the past year Livongo has grown its user base by 45% and more than doubled ARPU. Today the market cap for ALL of $TDOC is $21.3 billion. It doesn't seem fair or right.-- Rick Munarriz (@Market) September 15, 2021
I argued that Teladoc was cheap because its market cap was approaching the $18.5 billion all-stock deal it make for Livongo, a fast-growing company at the time providing timely digital health monitoring of chronic conditions that it had acquired months earlier. Teladoc's market cap has fallen to just above $6 billion these days, and the reason behind the massive losses it has posted in back-to-back quarters is the non-cash goodwill impairments it has been recording to write down the value of its Livongo acquisition.
It's not a good look. Growth is slowing, and guidance every three months appears to be another scalpel dropping to the floor. Adjusted losses also continue to be problematic. However, Teladoc's still a growing company leading a niche that has years (if not decades) of future growth. It will generate at least $2.4 billion in revenue this year. There are definitely question marks, but it's still a disruptive growth stock better equipped to handle competitive threats than it seems. The group of believers has thinned out quite a bit over the past year and change. I was wrong about the past. It doesn't mean I'll be wrong about the future.