Gary Guthart, the longtime CEO of robot-assisted surgery pioneer Intuitive Surgical (NSDQ:ISRG), said yesterday that he’s confident Intuitive will be able to compete as smaller rivals begin hitting the market as early as this year and bigger players loom on the horizon.
“We have known for years and have anticipated for years. We didn’t wake up yesterday and think, ‘Competitors are coming, we better do something,” Guthart said during a conference call to discuss Intuitive’s 4th-quarter and 2015 results
TransEnterix‘s (NYSE:TRXC) SurgiBot is expected to hit the U.S. market during the 1st half of this year, with Titan Medical (CVE:TMD) (which unveiled the prototype of its Sport system this week) could follow as soon as 2017. Late-comers to the space include the Verb Surgical joint venture between Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and Google (NSDQ:GOOG) subsidiary Verily Life Sciences; a still-unnamed device from Medtronic (NYSE:MDT); and stealthy Auris Surgical Robotics, led by Intuitive founder Dr. Frederic Moll.
Asked during a conference call yesterday about his take on the competitive landscape, Guthart said the newer entrants will have to prove both clinical and economic value.
“[A]t the end of the day, value is going to be driven by the ability of these products and services to drive great outcomes and compared or weighed against the price of those things,” he said. “And so as competitors enter, they have to choose. Can they show that value in terms of outcomes and price and can they offer the set of ecosystem elements that they are going to be a useful?
“There are some other companies out there that will be capable. We expect that customers will explore what they are offering. We think we are well positioned when that exploration occurs,” Guthart said, according to Seeking Alpha.
Intuitive yesteday reported profits of $190 million, or $4.99 per share, on sales of $676.5 million for the 3 months ended Dec. 31, for bottom-line growth of 29.4% on sales growth of 11.9% compared with Q4 2014. Adjusted to exclude 1-time items, earnings per share were $5.89; Wall Street analysts were looking for an adjusted EPS of $5.04. Revenue also beat analyst estimates by more than $20 million.
For the full year, Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Intuitive reported profits of $588.8 million, or $15.54 per share, on sales of $2.4 billion, for a massive, 40.6% bottom-line gain on sales growth of 11.9% compared with the prior year. Adjusted EPS were $19.28, topping analysts expectations of $18.40 by nearly a dollar. Revenue also beat analyst expectations by a more narrow $24 million.