Shares of robotic surgery specialist Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG) 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.
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 TheFly.com, 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.
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.