While stock market hit by coronavirus fears, Teladoc could see uptick in business

Teladoc executives are closely tracking the global coronavirus outbreak as the spread of the disease in the U.S. would drive up the need for telehealth services.

"Our clinical teams, thousands of physicians around the world, are actively working along with our commercial teams and clients to ensure that members have the most timely and relevant access to the latest information during this unfolding situation, and access to care if and when they need it," Teladoc CEO Jason Gorevic said during the company's fourth-quarter and full-year 2019 earnings call Wednesday.

Teladoc provides telehealth services in 130 countries.

Federal health officials starkly warned on Tuesday that the new coronavirus will almost certainly spread in the U.S. and that hospitals, businesses and schools should begin making preparations.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also is advising the healthcare industry to prepare for the potential community spread of coronavirus in the U.S. by leveraging existing telehealth tools to direct people to the right level of healthcare for their medical needs.

While the broader markets took a hit over coronavirus fears this week, Teladoc shares rose 4.4% on Tuesday following the CDC's comments, according to Seeking Alpha.

Teladoc has already seen a big uptick in virtual visits due to a severe flu season this year, Gorevic said. In early February, during peak flu season, one out of eight general medical visits were flu-related. It's expected that a larger outbreak of the coronavirus in the U.S. would drive up the company's virtual visits as well.

Tuesday's announcement from federal health officials signals "a potentially significant milestone in the progression of the outbreak," Gorevic told analysts during a Q&A following the earnings presentation.

He added, "That having been said, there are several potential scenarios, and, at this point, it's too early to quantify the impact that the outbreak could have on our business."

Teladoc Chief Medical Officer Lewis Levy, M.D., said the company is contributing to ongoing public health efforts by ensuring best practices for virtual care visits for patients who think they have been exposed to coronavirus.

The company also will help health systems provide virtual care at greater scale through the Teladoc platform and its recently acquired InTouch Health platform.

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In January, Teladoc announced it was acquiring InTouch Health, a provider of enterprise telehealth solutions for hospitals and health systems, in a $600 million deal.

Teladoc also has been actively partnering with the CDC for several weeks to provide near real-time disease surveillance data, Levy said. The company also has been in touch with the World Health Organization, Gorevic said.

"We will continue to play an active role here," he said.

Q4 2019 and full-year performance

The company had "record" performance in 2019 with results that were at the high end or exceeded the company's expectations, Gorevic said.

The company's fourth-quarter 2019 revenue grew 27% to $156.5 million compared to the same period last year, and total visits during the quarter increased by 44% to 1.2 million.

Full-year 2019 revenue jumped 32% to $553.3 million compared to 2018 revenue. Teladoc's virtual visits in 2019 grew 57% to 4.1 million compared to 2.6 million total visits in 2018.

Teladoc reported U.S. paid membership totaled 36.7 million users, up 61% from 22.8 million users in 2018. That represents an increase of 14 million new paid members in 2019, the largest number of new member adds in the company's history, Gorevic said.

The number of members in the U.S. with visit-fee-only access rose 104% from 9.5 million members in 2018 to 19.3 million members.

RELATED: Teladoc reports strong gains in virtual visits driven by growth of behavioral telehealth

Subscription access fees revenue in 2019 increased by 32% to $463 million while total visit-fee revenue rose 34% to $90 million, compared to 2018.

Teladoc Chief Financial Officer Mala Murthy said the company delivered $30 million in operating cash flow for full-year 2019, the first time Teladoc has achieved positive cash flow.

The company has yet to turn a profit and still has sizable net losses—$98.9 million for the full year in 2019, which grew from a net loss of $97.1 million in 2018. Net loss per share was $1.38 for the full year 2019 compared to $1.47 for the full year 2018.

The company reported a narrower-than-expected quarterly loss for the fourth quarter of 2019. Teladoc said it lost $19 million, or $0.26 a share, in the quarter, compared with a loss of $24.9 million, or $0.35 a share, in the fourth quarter of 2018. That beat Wall Street estimates of a net loss per share of $0.33. 

Teladoc is forecasting net losses will shrink in 2020—projecting a net loss per share to be between $1.19 and $1.06 for the year.

Gorevic said the company's financial outlook for the first quarter of 2020 was revenue between $169 million to $172 million. The company expects full-year 2020 revenue between $695 million to $710 million, which represents between 26% to 28% growth.

The company also expects strong growth in its virtual visits for 2020, projected to reach between 5.5 million and 5.9 million. That represents growth between 34% to 43%.