Intuitive Surgical (ISRG -0.93%), maker of the popular da Vinci robotic surgical devices, wasn't a popular name on the stock market Monday. The company's shares fell nearly 4% on the day, a steeper decline than that of the S&P 500, due to an analyst downgrade.
The downgrading analyst was Citigroup prognosticator Joanne Wuensch, who cut her recommendation to neutral from a buy, while maintaining a price target of $1,100 per share. That level, however, still presents some potential upside on the stock, which closed Monday at just over $970.
In her research note, Wuensch cited CEO Marshall Mohr's recent remarks about the effect of the coronavirus delta variant on the company's business. Particularly in delta hot spots like Florida and Texas, where hospitals are at or approaching capacity, certain surgical procedures unrelated to the coronavirus are being postponed.
"There is a direct correlation between hospital resource availability and how strained it is, and deferrable procedures and da Vinci procedures," Mohr said at a healthcare industry conference last month. He singled out procedures such as hernia operations and gall bladder removals, which can usually be postponed if need be.
That said, Wuensch took pains to write that while she was "taking a pause" on recommending Intuitive Surgical stock, the company itself doesn't believe those postponements will place an overly heavy burden on its business.
We should also bear in mind that postponements rarely mean cancellations; sooner or later that gall bladder will require removal, and that hernia must be fixed. This latest recommendation shift shouldn't be sufficient reason alone for Intuitive Surgical bulls to bail from the stock.