Teladoc closes 2023 with improved $220M loss, but weak forecast for 2024 leads to stock skid

A falling tide sinks most boats. If you were riding the telehealth pandemic tide, as Amwell [TTA 15 Feb] and Teladoc did, these last two years were the worst kind of shock. Teladoc’s 2022 was an annus horribilis–the Livongo acquisition went $6.6 billion worth of sideways [TTA 3 Feb 23], wiping out their 2022 with writedowns culminating in a $13.7 billion annual loss. Their 2023 was a lot better, beating analysts’ estimates, but forecast growth is slowing to a crawl.

  • Q4 revenue was up 4% to $661 million, powered by a 15% gain in international revenue of $96 million and a 2% increase in US revenue to $565 million. Hopes for the heavily promoted mental health business BetterHelp fell flat too at a flat $277 million. Their integrated care segment providing telehealth services to health plans, employers, and health systems brought in $384 million, up 8%. Net loss was $29 million versus $3.8 billion in 2022.
  • 2023 notched an 8% increase from $2.4 billion to $2.6 billion, with integrated care accounting for $1.5 billion, up 7%, with BetterHelp revenue reaching $1.1 billion. But losses continued at $220.4 million–versus $13.7 billion in 2022.
  • Adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization) increased in Q4 22% to $114 million, with 2023 up 33% to $328 million. BetterHelp’s Q4 increased 11% to $58 million, 19% to $136 million for the year.

This cheerful picture was negated by Teladoc’s downbeat forecast for 2024. Q1 is projected between $630 and $645 million, lower than the analyst take of $673 million. 2024 full year is forecast between $2.635 billion and $2.735 billion, with the analyst take at $2.77 billion. The analysts forecast a 6.8% increase versus Teladoc’s forecast of 5.2%, but the difference was enough to drop their share price by 25%. According to CEO Jason Gorevic, the forecast will be for growth at best in low single digits, which is not what Wall Street wanted to hear. This could be sandbagging–or reality. Telehealth visits dropped 45% in 2022 from 2020 (Trilliant Health), with more recent CMS Medicare data on visits falling 73% in Q2 2023 from Q2 2020. Other factors: telehealth modules in EMRs and population health platforms, many more competitors like Included Health (Grand Rounds/Doctor on Demand) and MDLive.

Teladoc post-Livongo writedown has assiduously focused on cutting costs, higher margins, and getting on that ‘path to profitability’, cutting jobs in data science and engineering, third-party (supplier?) costs, and more. Yet on the Q4/2023/2024 earnings call, the CEO talked up making technology deals for differentiating technologies such as machine learning and (of course) AI, as well as ‘tuck in’ M&A deals. After the Livongo embarrassment, perhaps Mr. Gorevic could give it a rest until notching a few more solid quarters. Quartz, FierceHealthcare, Healthcare Dive, Teladoc release

Categories: Latest News and Opinion.