|Intuitive Surgical 3rd-qtr profit tops expectations|
Tue Oct 18, 2011 6:24pm EDT
* Q3 EPS $3.05 vs Wall St view $2.76
* Revenue up 30 percent to $447 million
* 133 da Vinci systems sold in quarter
* Shares rise 7.6 percent
By Bill Berkrot
Oct 18 (Reuters) - Intuitive Surgical Inc reported a much higher-than-expected third-quarter profit on increased demand for its da Vinci surgical robots and a rise in procedures using the expensive systems, and its shares rose nearly 8 percent.
The company sold 133 of its surgical systems in the quarter at a cost of nearly $1.5 million each, and saw procedure volume rise 30 percent in what has been a traditionally weak quarter for Intuitive.
"There was nothing weak about this quarter," said Jason Mills, an analyst for Canaccord Genuity.
While other companies large and small in the sector talk of sluggish demand, "Intuitive Surgical continues to put up great results," Mills said.
The company slightly raised its revenue and procedure growth forecasts for the full year. It now expects 2011 revenue to grow 22 percent to 23 percent, up from a prior view of 19 percent to 21 percent, and sees procedures growing 29 percent to 30 percent, up from its previous forecast of 27 percent to 29 percent.
The company posted a net profit of $122 million, or $3.05 per share, compared with a profit of $87 million, or $2.14 per share, a year ago. That topped analysts' average expectations by 29 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue for the quarter rose 30 percent to $447 million, sailing past Wall Street estimates of $418 million and the previous quarter's sales of $426 million.
"They are performing the best among any company in medical devices. They're the best operators in med tech," Mills said.
The third quarter tends to be weaker for Intuitive as many surgeons who operate the da Vinci systems take vacations during the summer, lowering potential procedure volume.
But procedure volume increased 30 percent over the year-ago quarter. Instruments and accessories sales rose 38 percent to $176 million, and services revenue rose 25 percent to $72 million.
Of the 133 da Vinci systems sold in the quarter, 60 went to repeat customers. The company said 99 systems were sold in the United States, 18 in Europe and 16 in the rest of the world, including six to the potentially lucrative Japanese market for which the company is awaiting reimbursement decisions from regulators.
There are now a total of 2,031 da Vinci systems placed around the world.
The da Vinci systems are most often used in delicate prostate and gynecological procedures and have been associated with shorter hospital stays and fewer complications.
Beyond its traditional surgical areas, the company said it is seeing strong growth in da Vinci use for thoracic and colorectal surgeries and more use in kidney procedures.
"Patients are demanding minimally invasive procedures that get them out of the hospital quicker," Mills said.
The company said it added 76 jobs in the quarter, taking its employee total to 1,845.
Intuitive shares rose 7.6 percent to $412 in extended trading from their Nasdaq close of $382.76.