While the coronavirus pandemic reminded us about the importance of healthcare, some businesses have been busier than others. Hospitals overrun with COVID-19 patients have been rescheduling non-emergency surgeries left and right, which hasn't been good for Intuitive Surgical (ISRG 1.35%).
Despite a troubling outlook for 2021, there were some highlights in Intuitive Surgical's latest earnings call. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on Jan. 29, healthcare and cannabis bureau chief Corinne Cardina and Fool.com writer Cory Renauer discuss two green flags in the company's latest earnings report.
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Corinne Cardina: Let's talk about Intuitive Surgical. I think they reported on Friday of last week, so a week ago. What are two green flags from Intuitive Surgical's earnings?
Cory Renauer: OK. Intuitive Surgical reported 6% year-over-year procedure growth, which isn't as rapid as Intuitive Surgical's investors are used to. But I still think this is a green flag because, at the beginning of the pandemic, I didn't think Intuitive Surgical was going to report anything less than shrinking procedure volumes. I thought procedure volumes were going to just fall off a cliff this year, because like Johnson & Johnson's medical devices, Intuitive Surgical does those minimal invasive surgeries that are not emergency, they can be put off technically. So 6% procedure growth is impressive.
Cardina: It is. Is there a second green flag?
Renauer: Yes, second green flag for Intuitive Surgical's earnings, despite the pandemic, the company grew its bottom line without reducing spending on research and development or letting go of valuable employees. In the fourth quarter, the company reported adjusted earnings that actually grew about 4% year over year. So on the bottom line, the company actually made a little bit more money this year even though the coronavirus pandemic is about the worst thing you can imagine happening to a company like Intuitive Surgical.
Cardina: Yeah, it's really resilient. I think a lot of us probably were surprised by that. Intuitive Surgical is not as diversified as a company like Johnson & Johnson. It really depends on things happening in hospitals to do that. Most of its revenue is either from its systems or from the components of the system that you replace after using its products in surgery. Naturally, that fell but it was nice to see that the company is certainly not floundering by any means.