Teladoc leads to a smoother 2021, suggesting that the rise of the pandemic is slowing

• Teladoc beat Wall Street expectations for fourth-quarter earnings and revenue, although the virtual assistance powerhouse released a softer outlook for 2021, suggesting that the favorable COVID-19 winds drove the usage of the story of telemedicine in the last year could slow down in 2021.

• Shares fell 7% on Thursday morning. The New York shopping provider’s guidelines may reflect management conservatism or the increasingly saturated market for virtual assistance, analysts said.

• Teladoc expects sales of between $ 1.95 and $ 2 billion this year, representing approximately 80% inter-annual growth, well below the 98% year-on-year growth through 2020. Likewise, Teladoc expects a total of 52 -54 million people in the United States by the end of 2021, a slight increase from the 51.8 million registered members at the end of 2020.

Teladoc grew rapidly during the pandemic, had record visits, and nearly doubled sales last year, incorporating two major acquisitions, namely the telemedicine business InTouch and the news giant Livongo. Revenue for the full year 2020 was $ 1.09 billion, while the total number of visits increased 156% year-over-year to $ 10.6 million.

However, Teladoc is still not profitable, posting a net loss of $ 485.1 million, almost five times the loss recorded last year.

Some skeptics question whether the company will continue to make a profit once patients feel good again when they see their doctor in person and may reflect this doubt in the 2021 guidelines. ETrade’s Wall Street analysts assume that stocks will fall further 15% for the next 12 months.

“Why more flexible leadership?Jefferies analyst David Windley examined the result, citing a decline in paid orders. “The obvious and valid reason is that [Teladoc] has added 19 million paying members since 2018” and “COVID has probably taken some 21 million, but we also believe that the recent industry shift towards longitudinal models is driving OLS to take a pause and evaluate approaches and it may take some time to smooth out those wrinkles. “

Teladoc management was confident of long-term growth, particularly in light of new products and interest in specialized areas such as mental health, chronic care management, and virtual primary care, although enrollment growth could slow this year.

“We had to rebuild the pipeline after an explosive year last year if you will. So we are conservative on membership growth,” Jason Gorevic, Teladoc CEO, said in an investor call.

BetterHelp, Teladoc’s direct-to-consumer mental health business, tripled its sales in 2020 and accounted for about half of Teladoc’s year-on-year growth – an ace up its sleeve when it comes down to it. Who was beating expectations, “Windley Teladoc predicts BetterHelp will grow 50% in 2021. Traffic remains extremely high even as Teladoc’s top visits normalize.

Teladoc bought Livongo last year for $ 18.5 billion and quickly turned around to sell its packaged goods to its customers. Although still in its early stages, Gorevic says the seller sees strong momentum to bring the integrated product to market, having signed more than a dozen new cross-selling agreements since entering the deal in October.

Teladoc is currently working on a new integrated behavioral health product that will combine Livongo’s digital mental health platform with Teladoc’s network of clinics and is expected to launch later this year. The provider also tested a virtual primary care model called Primary360 and has a portfolio of more than 100 options ranging from large employers to large payers, Gorevic said.

Teladoc, which relies heavily on US insurers and employers, reported fourth-quarter revenue of $ 383.3 million, up nearly 145% year-over-year. The total number of visits of 3 million increased 139% over the previous year.