Why Intuitive Surgical Inc. Shares Soared

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of robotic surgical device maker Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ: ISRG  ) soared as much as 15% following the Food and Drug Administration's approval of its new da Vinci Xi Surgical System.

So what: According to Intuitive Surgical's press release, the da Vinci Xi, which is often used in minimally invasive abdominal surgeries to replace traditional laparoscopic surgeries, now possesses an overhead instrument that allows the physician to hit all four quadrants of a surgery without repositioning, smaller and thinner arms that allow for greater range of motion, better endoscopic architecture for clearer imaging, and longer instrument shafts for better reach. With approval in the U.S. in the bag, Intuitive now plans to seek approval throughout the remainder of the world.

Now what: It's been five years since Intuitive's last key da Vinci upgrade, so this approval couldn't have come at a better time for a company that's currently dealing with an ongoing investigation into the safety of its surgical system relative to laparoscopic surgery. The one advantage that Intuitive Surgical continues to maintain is that it really is the only profitable game in town when it comes to surgical soft tissue surgeries. This veritable monopoly on the market gives the company incredible pricing power, which it can wield to deliver impressive margins and growth nearly every quarter. While the gray clouds haven't lifted completely, I still personally consider Intuitive Surgical a company that can outperform over the long run.

Intuitive Surgical may have soared today, but it'll probably have a hard time keeping pace with this top stock in 2014
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