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Why Intuitive Surgical Stock Popped Today

By Rich Smith – Sep 2, 2020 at 2:47PM

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Two analysts in two weeks voice grudging approval of the robotic surgery stock.

What happened

Shares of robotic surgery specialist Intuitive Surgical (ISRG -0.86%) are getting a lift in Wednesday trading -- up 3.4% in the day's final half hour -- and from a rather unexpected source.

This morning, analysts at R.W. Baird initiated coverage of Intuitive Surgical stock with a neutral rating and a $700 price target.

Rising red stock arrow representing a stock going up drawn on a yellow background

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

On the face of it, this doesn't sound too propitious. A neutral rating isn't nearly as optimistic as a buy, for one thing. And a $700 price target isn't much to promise, considering that Intuitive Surgical stock already sells for more than $765 a share.

And yet, Baird's initiation is actually the second bit of modestly positive analyst action we've seen in the past two weeks. In mid-August, reports, investment banker SVB Leerink also issued a report on Intuitive. And while Leerink, like Baird, rated the stock only a neutral "market perform," and assigned a price target even lower than Baird's ($690 a share), Leerink's rating actually saw that price target rise from a previous estimate of $650 a share.

Thus, one way of looking at the analyst moves is that there's a trend of rising optimism, and rising price targets, afoot.

Now what

Granted, in its note two weeks ago, Leerink admitted that it would much prefer to buy Intuitive Surgical stock at a more attractive (i.e. cheaper) price than it costs today. Still, the analyst noted that Intuitive Surgical is a "premium MedTech asset with a large underpenetrated [market] that should continue to fuel a long-term multi-year growth story."

With advantages like that, Leerink (and Baird) can hope all they want for better prices to buy in -- but they'd better not bet on getting them.

Rich Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Intuitive Surgical and recommends the following options: long January 2022 $580 calls on Intuitive Surgical and short January 2022 $600 calls on Intuitive Surgical. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Intuitive Surgical, Inc. Stock Quote
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