Once upon a time, Teladoc Health(NYSE: TDOC) was a rising star for investors. The stock was widely viewed as a great way to profit from changing dynamics resulting from the pandemic.
It's a much different scenario now, though. Teladoc's share price has plunged more than 85% below the high set in early 2021. Many investors threw in the towel on the telemedicine stock.
But could a rebound be likely? Here are the bull and bear cases for Teladoc stock.
Bull case: Still a lot to like
Keith Speights: Many investors focus entirely on Teladoc's negatives: the stock's decline, continued big losses, slowing growth, and so on. However, there's still a lot to like. I think the positives outweigh its negatives.
Sure, revenue growth is slowing. But that's to be expected after the COVID-19 surge. Teladoc actually delivered several bright spots in its second-quarter results that investors seemed to ignore, notably impressive growth in memberships and visits.
There has been a lot of attention placed on Teladoc's big write-offs due to its acquisition of Livongo Health. What has been largely overlooked, though, is that the company continues to progress toward profitability outside of these accounting moves.
Most important, however, is that Teladoc remains the top player in a market with strong long-term prospects. No other telehealth company can claim half of the Fortune 500 as customers or the scope of virtual health products that Teladoc can. The current market cap of around $6.6 billion doesn't come close to reflecting the potential that the company has.
Bear case: Teladoc's execution doesn't inspire confidence
Keith Noonan: Teladoc's $18.5 billion acquisition of Livongo Health has been a financial boondoggle that's destroyed billions in shareholder value and created uncertainty around the company's outlook. In some respects, management also hasn't done a great job of shaping investor expectations and providing accurate guidance and business updates.
While the company did warn investors that a big write-down on the value of Livongo was coming earlier this year, the actual write-downs have been much larger than many anticipated. Actual business performance has fallen significantly short of previous targets. That creates a situation in which it's harder to have confidence in what the team says about the current state of the business and what's coming down the pipeline.
Teladoc has taken roughly $9.6 billion in impairment charges across the first half of this year, and the development looks even worse in the context of slowing sales growth. Revenue grew just 18% year over year in the second quarter, and cash flow has swung back into the negative across the first half of the year. Management stated that full-year revenue and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) would likely come in at the low end of its guidance range.
While telehealth is a market that still holds long-term promise, Teladoc's strategic decisions and business performance have left a lot to be desired lately. The stock has already seen massive pullbacks. It does have avenues to climbing above current levels, but the company's questionable moat and weak execution put shares at risk of continued underperformance.
What it will take for the bulls to prevail
To be sure, the bears are running rampant with respect to Teladoc stock right now. What will it take for the bulls to prevail? A few consecutive quarters of solid growth that beats expectations would go a long way toward renewing investors' confidence in the company and its management. There could still be a fairy-tale ending for this beaten-down stock.
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Keith Noonan has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Keith Speights has positions in Teladoc Health. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Teladoc Health. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.