Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (NASDAQ:ISRG) has helped save millions of lives with its surgical systems and instruments. However, the company has come under fire as the safety of its products have come into question. I do not believe the claims are legitimate, and I think the stock is set to soar back to its 52 week high.
The da Vinci
Intuitive Surgical manufactures surgical systems, instruments, and accessories for various procedures. The da Vinci Surgical System is its most popular product and costs about $1.5 million. Procedures with the da Vinci are minimally invasive, meaning the patient can have major surgeries using tiny incisions while giving the surgeon better visualization, precision, dexterity, and control.
The safety of Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (NASDAQ:ISRG)'s systems have been questioned as incident reports have been on the rise. However, the increased reports are simply due to the change in reporting practices by Intuitive Surgical. This has been overlooked by most, but management released a statement on March 13 to reiterate this fact.
The majority of the issues being reported are malfunctions relating to the instruments used, not the system itself. Cable breaks have been common and this leaves an instrument non-functional, but can be replaced quickly without harm to the patient. There have been zero reports of injuries or death, but this has not stopped the negativity. The situation has been blown out of proportion and has led to people questioning whether or not robotic surgeries are even necessary.
A more reliable source
Dr. Joseph Boyer is one of the most respected surgeons in the United States and is one of the 3,500 trained experts in da Vinci surgeries. In fact, he performed the first ever complete robotic cardiac surgery in Central Florida.
I spoke with Dr. Boyer about the negative headlines regarding the da Vinci Surgical System, and he had this to say:
"Look, any time a new technology comes out like robotics there is an initial flurry of extreme interest. Then, people who want to do so, are inclined to criticize the technology on some basis: cost, efficacy, or safety. I think it's a very safe, effective tool to use for surgical procedures."
I do not know about the readers of this article, but I trust Dr. Boyer more than any of the people on the other side of this argument. As an expert in the use of the da Vinci, he is much more educated in the safety of its use than anyone new to the situation. Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (NASDAQ:ISRG) has been very public with its stance and I believe the USDA will agree that the systems are safe for continued use.
From Feb. 19 to March 15, Intuitive Surgical's stock fell from $582.27 to $459.44, a 21.1% decline. Since then, the stock has rallied to $489.39, but is still well below its highs. I think this is just the beginning of the rally, and it will crack back above the $500 line within a week.
Fourth quarter review
Earnings also support Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (NASDAQ:ISRG)'s run higher. Here are the highlights from their fourth quarter report, released on Jan. 22:
Earnings per share of $4.25 vs. estimates of $4.04
Earnings growth of 13.3% year-over-year
Revenues of $609.30 million vs. estimates of $584.36 million
Revenue growth of 22.7% year-over-year
In the fourth quarter report, management projected strong growth for 2013. Currently, earnings are projected to grow 16.6%, revenues are projected to grow 16%-19%, and procedures are expected to grow 20%-23%. These are strong growth rates that analysts expect to continue through 2015.
The Foolish bottom line
I believe the negativity will blow over and send Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (NASDAQ:ISRG) back above $580. This company is a long-term value play at just 20.6 times 2015 earnings. I bought the stock during the decline and plan on adding to the position on any further weakness. If you believe in the company like I do, now is the time to buy.
The article The Bull Case for Intuitive Surgical originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by Joseph Solitro.
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