Share price on Dec. 31, 2019: $519.15
Share price on Dec. 31, 2020: $818.10
The preeminent figure in the robotic surgical space, Intuitive Surgical (NSDQ:ISRG) endured a difficult 2020 as could be expected with the company’s bread and butter — surgery — put on the backburner as COVID-19 ran rampant.
A couple of months into the pandemic, Intuitive Surgical CEO Gary Guthart pointed out that patients who require surgeries that have been forced to delay them couldn’t continue to wait, and the demand once they are able to get their care was growing.
However, what followed was a difficult stretch which included an FDA Class 2 recall of the da Vinci SP robotic surgical system (dating back to 2019 but confirmed in May 2020) because it could trigger a mechanical vibration of the instrument tips and endoscope because of a software anomaly.
Then, the company’s second-quarter profits of $68 million, or $0.57 per diluted share, on sales of $852 million for the three months ended June 20, 2020, represented a bottom-line decline of -79% and a top-line slide of -22% compared with Q2 2019.
While the more than one-fifth dip in sales represented the struggle for surgical robotics companies during the pandemic, the company still topped Street projections, highlighting its effectiveness despite all that was going on.
Intuitive Surgical during the final months of the fourth quarter intended to introduce an “Extended Use Program” offering select Xi/X instruments possessing 12 to 18 uses compared to the current 10-use instruments. The company also said it would lower the price of certain other instruments that are most commonly used in lower-acuity procedures.
Toward the end of 2020, the company showed its strength with the launch of an inaugural $100 million investment fund called Intuitive Ventures. The fund is focused on investment opportunities surrounding digital tools, precision diagnostics, focal therapeutics and platform technologies that align with its “commitment to advancing positive outcomes in healthcare.” Although Medtronic and Johnson & Johnson are getting closer to launching their own robotic surgical platforms, Intuitive remains at the top of the space.