What happened

Shares of Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG) rose 31.1% in the first half of 2018, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. The maker of the da Vinci line of robotic surgery tools crushed Wall Street's expectations in both of the earnings reports that were presented in this six-month span.

So what

The company published analyst-stumping fourth-quarter results in January, then followed up with another impressive stumper in April. Intuitive Surgical beat Wall Street's consensus earnings estimates by an average of 15% while exceeding analysts' revenue targets by approximately 6%.

A robotic surgery tool, no unlike the daVinci system, performing surgery on a patient's abdomen.

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

The company is enjoying rampant sales growth around the world, driving a surge in sales of big-ticket surgery systems that should accelerate revenue from disposable tools as well as system maintenance and training services in coming years.

Intuitive Surgical's da Vinci machines are also becoming more flexible, adding a slew of new regulatory approvals in recent years. In the fourth quarter of 2017 alone, the system got the green flag for 12 new procedures in Japan and a broader range of general surgery interventions in the United States.

It's not a cheap stock, trading at 55 times trailing earnings and 59 times free cash flows, but fellow Motley Fool and healthcare expert Keith Speights still calls Intuitive Surgical a solid-long term pick at these prices.