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Intuitive Surgical (ISRG - Analyst Report), the leader in robotic surgery, is set to report its first-quarter 2013 results on Apr 18, 2013. Let’s see how things are shaping up prior to the announcement.

In the last quarter, the company posted a positive earnings surprise of 5.5% riding on continued demand for its surgical robots. 

Growth Factors this Past Quarter

Intuitive Surgical faces little direct competition in robotic surgery. The installed base of Intuitive Surgical continues to grow steadily as hospitals are compelled to upgrade their systems with these expensive machines. Recurring revenues from Instrument sales continue to climb steadily.

Earnings Whispers?

Our proven model does not conclusively show that Intuitive Surgical is likely to beat earnings estimates this quarter. This is because a stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP (Read: Zacks Earnings ESP: A Better Method) and a Zacks Rank #1, #2 or #3 for this to happen. This is not the case here as you will see below.

Negative Zacks ESP: The Most Accurate Estimate stands at $3.96 while the Zacks Consensus Estimate is pegged at $3.99. This comes to a difference of -0.75%.

Zacks Rank #3 (Hold): Intuitive Surgical’s Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) lowers the predictive power of ESP because the Zacks Rank #3 when combined with a negative ESP makes surprise prediction difficult.  We caution against stocks with Zacks Ranks #4 and #5 (Sell rated stocks) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions momentum.

Other Stocks to Consider

Here are some companies you may want to consider as our model shows they have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this quarter. 

NuVasive, Inc. (NUVA - Snapshot Report), Earnings ESP of +18.18% and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy)

Coventry Health Care Inc. , Earnings ESP of +7.69% and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy)

Hanger, Inc. (HGR - Analyst Report), Earnings ESP of +8.00% and a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy)

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