Clover Health (NASDAQ:CLOV) has been a popular meme stock since it went public in January after merging with a special purpose acquisition company. With billionaire investor Chamath Palihapitiya backing the business, it didn’t have trouble attracting attention. And in June, the company — which offers health insurance to Medicaid recipients — would see its stock soar to more than $28 or nearly double its Jan. 8 debut price. Today, Clover Health is trading around $8 per share, and much of the hype surrounding the business has cooled amid some uninspiring results and negative press.
For growth investors, there may be a better opportunity in this segment of the healthcare industry: Alignment Healthcare (NASDAQ:ALHC). This stock also started trading this year but hasn’t attracted the same fanfare. But with impressive numbers and an attractive outlook, it could make for a promising long-term investment.
What’s so great about Alignment Healthcare?
What stands out about Alignment Healthcare is its “senior-first” philosophy that aims to make it easier for older Americans to access healthcare. The company provides Medical Advantage health plans, a private-sector option for seniors receiving Medicare benefits. The company offers a 24/7 concierge where members can ask questions, schedule appointments, and receive help booking transportation.
Focusing on seniors is an important growth opportunity for investors. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, all baby boomers will be 65 or over by 2030. And in 2034, for the first time ever, seniors will make up more of the U.S. population than children and teenagers under the age of 18. With a focus on convenience and elderly care, Alignment Healthcare is positioned to capitalize on demographic tailwinds.
The company is already generating some eye-popping numbers
Alignment Healthcare released encouraging financial results on Aug. 9. For the second-quarter ended June 30, revenue totaled $309 million, up 26% year over year. The company incurred a loss of $41 million from operations (compared to a $13 million profit a year ago), but a big reason is that the business has been ramping up since it went public on March 26. Its selling, general, and administrative expenses of $71 million are more than double the $34 million it incurred a year earlier.
In Q2, its member count of 84,700 represented a 32% increase from a year ago, and for the 2021 fiscal year it expects total revenue to come in at around $1.1 billion, a year-over-year increase of 15%. Plus, the company has its sights set on expansion.
Optionality in geography, plan types, and strategy
Alignment Healthcare is planning to be in 16 new counties by 2022, bringing its total footprint to 38. In addition to expanding its presence in California, Nevada, and North Carolina, it will also enter Arizona. In total, the company estimates it will be able to reach 6.9 million Medicare-eligible people. Management also aims to offer more types of plans, including ones that serve low-income seniors and those who have chronic illnesses.
The company’s balanced and disciplined expansion strategy isn’t overly aggressive and could help set the company up for long-term success. And financially, Alignment Healthcare is in a solid position to reinvest. At the end of June, the company’s cash balance of $495 million exceeded its total debt of $329 million. There’s plenty of capital to deploy after covering its operating cash burn, which totaled $46 million over the past 12 months.
Here’s why Alignment could beat Clover Health
Shares of both Clover Health and Alignment Healthcare have fallen sharply this year — down 71% and 38%, respectively, from their highs. But with losses totaling $350 million over the trailing 12 months, Clover is far deeper in the red than Alignment, which had a net loss of $123 million. And Unlike Alignment, Clover’s loss increased in its most recent quarterly results. Plus, Clover has been burning through more cash over the past year from its day-to-day operations — $135 million vs. $46 million for Alignment.
But it’s not just the numbers that make Alignment Healthcare a better buy. It’s also that its business model looks safer. The company’s Care Anywhere program, which lets members access care from wherever they are at any time of day, has high levels of member satisfaction. The company reported a net promoter score (NPS) of 76 from the program in May — which is close to double the industry average.
By comparison, Clover Health’s web application, the Clover Assistant, which physicians use to help patients, normally scores an NPS between 55 and 63. The company has also been facing some controversy relating to it, including whether the application is nearly as useful as the company claims it to be; a short-seller report from Hindenburg Research earlier this year claimed it contained “irrelevant diagnoses.”
All in all, I believe Alignment Healthcare is a safer bet over the long run to outperform Clover Health given its stronger financials and high levels of customer satisfaction. And as it expands into more markets, it could be a top healthcare stock to own for many years.
This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.
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