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Does Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (ISRG)’s Pain Spell Doom for MAKO Surgical Corp. (MAKO)?

Earlier this week, shares of MAKO Surgical Corp. (NASDAQ:MAKO) fell 5% after fellow robotic-surgery specialist Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (NASDAQ:ISRG) pre-announced disappointing quarterly results.

Specifically, shares of Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (NASDAQ:ISRG) set a new 52-week low, plunging as much as 18% after it told investors to expect second-quarter income of around $160 million on revenue of $575 million. For those of you keeping track, that’s significantly lower than consensus estimates, which called for net income of $177.7 million on sales of $630.4 million.

Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (NASDAQ:ISRG)

So what happened? According to Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (NASDAQ:ISRG) CEO Gary Guthart, overall procedures last quarter rose 18% from the year-ago period, but the company was disappointed “with respect to [its] capital sales in the U.S.”

Of course, my fellow Fools wasted no time chiming in to tell you not only what was probably behind Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (NASDAQ:ISRG)’s plunge, but also how you should think about responding to the pullback. As a result, and because I largely agree with my colleagues’ opinions in this case, there’s little need for me to write a largely redundant article on the topic.

Guilty by association?
That said, many MAKO Surgical Corp. (NASDAQ:MAKO) investors — myself included — remain unsettled given Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (NASDAQ:ISRG)’s weak numbers.

After all, as fellow Fool contributor Sean Williams astutely pointed out, while Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (NASDAQ:ISRG)’s operations are still running firmly in the black, MAKO Surgical Corp. (NASDAQ:MAKO) is still striving to achieve its first profitable quarter as it builds a stable of established RIO surgical systems across the globe.

Remember, multiple core system sales misses are the very reason shares of MAKO Surgical Corp. (NASDAQ:MAKO) are currently trading more than 70% below their highs set in early 2012.

Luckily, after MAKO Surgical Corp. (NASDAQ:MAKO) turned in a solid quarter in May, which even managed to slightly exceed analysts’ expectations, the company was finally able to reassure investors that they might actually understand where they are on the adoption curve. If you recall, that nerve-wracking lack of clarity was one of the primary reasons fellow Fool Brian Stoffel told us last December that MAKO Surgical Corp. (NASDAQ:MAKO) would no longer remain a part of his 2013 portfolio.

Why MAKO may come out unscathed
Of course, I’ve maintained faith in the company since then, especially considering MAKO’s cash burn is slowing as it slowly sells more systems. Better yet, per-site system utilization has remained healthy, which indicates the hospitals that have already purchased the expensive robots are continuing to put them to good use.

What’s more, it’ll take a whole lot less to move MAKO’s revenue needle than Intuitive needs to sustain its torrid pace of growth. For example, MAKO’s most recent report outlined the sales of just five RIO Surgical Systems, while Intuitive sold 164 of its da Vinci Surgical Systems last quarter alone. If that sounds like a lot… well, it is. In fact, Intuitive’s first quarter system sales were higher than MAKO’s entire installed RIO system base so far at 161 units.

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