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8 Stocks to Consider Ahead of Earnings

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Intuitive Surgical

Friday's Closing Price: $459.44

12-Month Median Price Target: $466.50

Implied Potential Return: 1.5%

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: N/A

Current Analyst Coverage Breakdown: Of the 17 analysts covering the shares, 6 have either strong buy (2) or buy (4) ratings vs. 10 holds and one underperform.

Commentary: The maker of the da Vinci robotic surgery system is slated to report its fiscal fourth-quarter results on Jan. 19, and Wall Street is expecting a profit of $3.32 a share in the December-ended period on revenue of $483.7 million.

The less than bullish analyst sentiment on Intuitive Surgical reflects some nervousness about valuation as the stock was one of the top performers in the S&P 500 in 2011, rising roughly 60% in the past year, topping out at $443 on Oct. 28.

The company has posted strong sequential growth on the top and bottom lines in all three quarters of fiscal 2011 so far with revenue rising to $446.7 million in the third quarter from $388.1 million in the first quarter.

Intuitive Surgical's average upside earnings surprise over the past eight quarters is a healthy 13.1%, and it will need to beat the consensus by a representative amount to support the stock, which currently trades at a forward price-to-earnings multiple of 32.3X vs. a multiple of 12.2X for the S&P 500.

Check out TheStreet's quote page for Intuitive Surgical for year-to-date share performance, analyst ratings, earnings estimates and much more.
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