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Why MAKO Surgical Shares Dipped Then Rebounded

By Sean Williams – Jan 7, 2013 at 2:00PM

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Is this meaningful or just another movement?

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of robotic surgery device maker MAKO Surgical (MAKO.DL) fell as much as 14% following the release of select fourth-quarter earnings data -- although, shares have rebounded to be lower by only 4.5% as of this writing.

So what: MAKO is actually presenting at the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference on Wednesday and is widely expected to release its full-year results then. However, the data divulged today shows that MAKO sold 15 Robotic Arm Interactive Orthopedic systems, or RIOs, during the quarter, matching its total in the third quarter, and hitting the midpoint of its annual range of 42 to 48 systems. Also, MAKOplasty procedures rose by 20% over the sequential quarter to 2,904, and are 29% higher than the year-ago quarter.

Now what: Given that Intuitive Surgical (ISRG -1.31%) has had such resounding success with its da Vinci surgical system, everyone just sort of expected that MAKO would be a genuine competitor for Intuitive. Unfortunately, it hasn't worked out that way, and investors once again seem disappointed that MAKO merely met the midpoint of its own guidance. The rollout of MAKO's RIO system takes quite a bit of time and a lot of physician training, so patience is going to be required by investors in the meantime. I'll keep my eye on MAKO at these levels, but I'm clearly sold on Intuitive's growth and near-monopoly on the robotic surgery sector in the interim.

Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.

The Motley Fool owns shares of MAKO Surgical. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of MAKO Surgical and Intuitive Surgical. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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