On Monday, the New York Stock Exchange stopped trading of Babylon Holdings Limited (NYSE:BBLN), the corporate name of Babylon Health. The reason was a sudden spike in the share price along with a huge spike in trading volume. Price moved from $0.76 to $0.96 from 12.45 pm ET to 1.15pm, with volume spiking from ~3,000 to 1 million (see the bottom bar chart). The volume and price shift automatically trigger a stop trade. Based on the Yahoo Finance chart, it resumed Tuesday morning and cruised down to just above recent prices at $0.77 closing today at $0.79, along with a drop in trading volume nearer the recent averages.
Babylon issued two terse press releases: the first on Monday 3.59pm ET which stated “that it is not engaged in nor has it had contact or discussions with any potential acquirer”, then a second on Tuesday at 6am which briefly addressed the ‘M&A speculation’ and the sudden (but short-lived) 20% rise in share price. The response from CEO Ali Parsa was that they “delivered very strong financial results and operational performance that demonstrate its continued momentum. Babylon is taking active steps to maximize shareholder value and to improve its shareholder base and capital structure.”
Babylon Health went public last October in likely the last of the major healthcare SPACs at a debut of over $10 and a valuation that exceeded $4 billion. Its current value represents a 90% loss, not much different than what happened to the share values of Amwell and Teladoc, as well as other health tech SPACs [TTA 15 July]. Before the SPAC, they raised $200 million and bought Meritage Medical Network and First Choice Medical Group, opening an office in Palo Alto. Babylon also bought the remainder of Higi health kiosks they did not own in December, closing out an investment option with Higi in May that this Editor thought was puzzling for starters.
Babylon’s Q2 financials were, as we noted, a mixed picture but encouraging [TTA 11 Aug] in their US growth and lack of drama. The company had previously stated that it intends to save $100 million in Q3 and discharge about 100 people as part of this. This is nothing that would prompt a sudden swoop by an investor or investors–not disclosed–reminiscent of the buccaneering days of T. Boone Pickens. But in recent weeks there’s been a change in the investment climate. Certain companies such as CVS and Allscripts plus health plans have signaled that they want to buy healthy health tech companies at the right (discounted) price that fill in their tech gaps. ‘Second generation’ remote patient monitoring (RPM) and telehealth are having a hot moment. For traders, it’s the boring dog days of August in a market that’s had more down than up days this year.
The market action was a blip, but one that benefited Babylon and certainly put it back in the news. Which can’t hurt.
Mr. Parsa announced back in January at JPM that Babylon’s goal was to close 2022 at $1 billion in revenue, triple that of 2021. With Q2 revenue of $265 million, they are on track (he quoted a run rate of $80 million per month). There is also the Transcarent/Glen Tullman (late of Livongo) investment connection that came over via the Higi acquisition. Transcarent is heavily invested in value-based care models for self-insured employers as a benefit for their employees, as is Babylon. Dots are here and ready to be connected.