Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG): Cautious comments from CIBC

- CIBC is out cautious on Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG) saying the stock has run up 67% since 2Q earnings, and they feel the current valuation is reflecting expectations for another blowout in 3Q. The key metric to watch is still new units. ISRG likely will have to significantly beat CIBC's worldwide 56-unit est for the stock to work higher, which they do not expect.

As for specifics on 3Q, the firm expects ISRG to slightly beat their estimates for sales and EPS of $146 million and $0.85, which are above Street estimates of $143 million and $0.79, respectively. Again, their bottom line is that it will not be enough NT, and so they're very cautious heading into the call.

Even great companies can reach valuation peaks, and ISRG common today may not offer the same returns as those to which its investors have grown accustomed. As growth comes back to earth next year (as the firm expects it will), the premium paid will likely be reduced, and the stock likely would be notably lower than today, heading into 2H08.

Notablecalls: This is the first time I have seen such cautious comments on ISRG coming from a serious player as CIBC. I have gone over the other previews and I must say the sell side hasn't picked up any signals of a major beat. Almost everyone sees ISRG coming in in-line with consensus. Yet, looking at the chart, it's pretty obvious a sizable beat is expected by market participants.

ISRG is scheduled to report in 2 days and I suspect we will see weakness in the stock ahead of the release. Shorting here looks like the sensible thing to do.

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