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What Happened in the Stock Market Today

By Jim Crumly – Apr 18, 2018 at 4:59PM

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On a mixed day for day the major benchmarks, Intuitive Surgical jumped on strong earnings and SunPower announced it is buying a domestic solar panel factory.

Stocks were mixed Wednesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -1.71%) was pulled down by IBM, which fell after reporting earnings. The S&P 500 (^GSPC -1.51%) closed with a small gain.

Today's stock market

Index Percentage Change Point Change
Dow (0.16%) (38.56)
S&P 500 0.08% 2.25

Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

Crude oil hit a new three-year high, driving up shares of energy companies; the SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (XOP -0.01%) jumped 3.1%. Consumer staples lagged, and the Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLP -1.74%) fell 0.8%.

As for individual stocks, Intuitive Surgical (ISRG -0.86%) rose after reporting quarterly results, and SunPower Corporation (SPWR 2.22%) announced it is buying a domestic solar panel manufacturing plant.

Cartoon bull and bear with up and down arrows.

Image source: Getty Images.

Intuitive Surgical reports strong procedure growth and system sales

Intuitive Surgical, the market leader in surgical robots, announced first-quarter earnings that were sharply higher than analysts had expected, and investors bid up the shares by 8.2% to an all-time high. Revenue grew 25% to $848 million and GAAP earnings per diluted share came in at $2.44, up 55% from a year ago. Analysts were expecting EPS of $2.07 on revenue of $779 million. 

Intuitive Surgical makes most of its money from selling supplies that are consumed during surgical procedures, and revenue from that segment increased 21% to $460 million. System sales increased 46% to $235 million as the company shipped 185 da Vinci systems in the quarter, compared with 133 in the period a year earlier. Service revenue grew 11% to $153 million.

One figure closely watched by analysts is procedure growth. Procedures grew 15% year over year, which was at the top of the 11%-15% growth range that the company forecast for the full year. In the conference call,  management revised that forecast to a range of 12% to 15%.

Last year, Intuitive Surgical steadily increased procedure growth forecasts through the year, ending with 16% growth. Analysts on the call were pleased with the procedure numbers, and that system sales took a big jump, although that number can be lumpy. The company also said that it is on track to launch its new single-port system later this year, has filed with the FDA for a new surgical stapler, and is making progress with its flexible catheter robot platform.

SunPower lights up on acquisition news

Shares of SunPower soared 11.9% after the solar panel maker announced it is acquiring Hillsboro, Oregon-based SolarWorld Americas, the largest U.S. crystalline-silicon solar manufacturer. SolarWorld Americas is a unit of privately held SolarWorld AG of Germany. The purchase price was not disclosed.

SunPower indicated it would invest new capital in the facility and start producing its high-efficiency P-Series solar panels there. The SolarWorld Americas plant currently has 430 megawatts (MW) of annual capacity to produce solar cells and 550 MW of capacity to manufacture solar modules. SunPower plans to continue to produce and ship SolarWorld's legacy products as well ramp up production of its own panels.

"We are thrilled to announce this agreement to acquire SolarWorld Americas, one of the most respected manufacturers of high-quality solar panels for more than 40 years," said SunPower CEO Tom Werner in the press release. "The time is right for SunPower to invest in U.S. manufacturing, and SolarWorld Americas provides a great platform for us to implement our advanced P-Series solar panel manufacturing technology right here in our home market."

The move is a response to the tariffs that the Trump administration has put on solar panels. SunPower had indicated it was looking for a domestic production site, and today's announcement had investors cheering the competitive advantages that the acquisition could bring the company.

Jim Crumly owns shares of Intuitive Surgical. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Intuitive Surgical. The Motley Fool is short shares of IBM. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Intuitive Surgical, Inc. Stock Quote
Intuitive Surgical, Inc.
$187.44 (-0.86%) $-1.62
SunPower Corporation Stock Quote
SunPower Corporation
$23.04 (2.22%) $0.50
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return) Stock Quote
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return)
$28,725.51 (-1.71%) $-500.10
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD) Stock Quote
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD)
$3,585.62 (-1.51%) $-54.85
SPDR Series Trust - SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF Stock Quote
SPDR Series Trust - SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF
$124.72 (-0.01%) $0.01
The Select Sector SPDR Trust - The Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR Fund Stock Quote
The Select Sector SPDR Trust - The Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR Fund
$66.73 (-1.74%) $-1.18

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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