Intuitive Surgical cuts outlook for growth in robot procedures

April 22 Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:08pm EDT

April 22 (Reuters) - Intuitive Surgical Inc on Tuesday lowered its forecast for procedure growth for its da Vinci surgical robots, citing a slowdown in U.S. gynecology procedures.

The medical device maker said it now expects da Vinci procedure growth in a range of 2 percent to 8 percent, down from the prior forecast of 9 percent to 12 percent.

The lower, wider range reflects uncertainty about the impact on procedure volumes as hospitals adjust to the implications of the Affordable Care Act, company officials said on a conference call after the release of first-quarter earnings.

Intuitive said revenue in the first quarter fell about 24 percent from a year ago to $465 million, consistent with the estimate it provided earlier this month.

First-quarter net income, including a $67 million charge for settling legal claims related to its surgical robotic system, was $44 million, or $1.13 a share, compared with $189 million, or $4.56 a share, in the same period a year ago.

The company also cited customers' anticipation of a new version of the robot system for lower U.S. shipments.

Intuitive saw double-digit revenue growth and steadily rising da Vinci sales in past years, but sales fell for the first time in 2013 as cost and safety concerns hurt demand.

Intuitive launched an upgraded version of its surgical system on April 1, which some analysts believe will revive sales. (Reporting by Susan Kelly in Chicago; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)