What happened

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.

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 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.

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.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.