A winter fall for Intuitive

Intuitive Surgical has two factors to blame for its 7% share price slide this morning, equivalent to a loss of around $6bn in market cap: a delay in the release of a next-gen surgical robot, and earnings that left analysts dissatisfied. Investors had been hoping for an announcement of a new system by the end of 2023, but on a call yesterday evening chief executive Gary Guthart said that though the group was investing in new generations of its multiport platform, no such product would launch this year. Mr Guthart said that increased data requirements in both Europe and the US had contributed to slower-than-expected development. Supply chain challenges will also have contributed. Whether the system might come in 2024 or even later is a question management declined to answer. Shareholders were also left mulling a fourth-quarter earnings per share figure of $1.23, beneath the $1.25-1.28 that analysts had pencilled in, though revenues held to expectations. With Medtronic now a player in this space – its Hugo robot got European approval for general surgical procedures in October – Intuitive needs to avoid these kinds of disappointments in future.

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