This ad first showed up in our inboxes under the “end surgery forever” headline in late January, and the following article first appeaered on January 26.
We have not gone through and updated the article, though the basic pitch is just about the same in the new version of the ad today as it was then. The “Major Announcement” is getting a bit closer, because the Company has consistently said they expect to hear a response from the FDA in the first quarter (and that ends on March 31).
Whether or not this widely-expected response from the FDA will have an immediate positive impact on the shares, I don’t know. The odds of approval seem quite high, I have not seen any analysts predict that they’ll fail to get approval this time … though there was also a sharply worded short attack on the shares from TheStreetSweeper a couple weeks ago. You can read the comments following the article for some of those updates and reactions along the way, but the rest of this article is unchanged from when it first appeared here six weeks ago:
“Intuitive Surgical’s stock price bolted from $3 all the way to $561 a share today.
“That’s a 19,000% return…
“Good enough to turn $10,000 into $1.9 million…
“And yet, it’s just a glimpse of the gains coming down the pike right now.
“You see, as innovative and groundbreaking as da Vinci is…
“Keep in mind, it’s not perfect.
“And the $2 company I’m recommending today has the patented technology to take robotic surgery to the next level…”
That’s what caught some of our readers’ eyes from a recent Ernie Tremblay ad — he’s looking for new subscribers to his Biotech Insider Alert, and in order to entice you he’s hinting about the “next Intuitive Surgical.”
That’s like waving a sausage in front of a dog, we can’t help but keep following — every investor is enchanted with the idea of finding the next mega-growth stock like Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) and their da Vinci machine. Even those of us dummies who sold the stock $400 ago (don’t ask).
So what’s this new technology? More from Tremblay:
“Their new technology isn’t just a tool used by a surgeon…
“It merges with the surgeon…
“Creating a whole new reality. Part man. Part machine.
“In short, a ‘bionic surgeon.'”
Cue the obligatory references to the Six Million Dollar Man (or, inflation adjusted, the $22 Million Man), but what Tremblay is touting here is a company with some sort of next-level surgical robot system, an improvement over Intuitive Surgica’s da Vinci.
“… it’s moved through the FDA approval process while attracting some of the savviest technology investors on the planet, including a billionaire often referred to as the ‘Warren Buffet of biotech….’
“… you need to understand that in the coming weeks, this breakthrough bionic surgeon could hit every hospital and surgical center on the planet.”
“In the coming weeks?” Be serious. Even if this weren’t a half-million-dollar machine it would take time to roll out and build to critical scale.
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Some of the biotech-savvy among you have already guessed what stock this is, I imagine, but don’t ruin the surprise for everyone else…
let’s check out some more clues:
“Surgeons ‘wear’ the technology and are always in the same room conducting the surgery themselves.
“If there’s a problem, the surgeon is right there next to the patient – inside the sterile field – able to respond immediately.
“This is crucial. One surgeon puts it this way:
‘If you’re sitting on a console 10 feet away, you’re not scrubbed in. If there’s catastrophe on the field the first thing you have to do is: somebody has to undock the unit… Then you have to move the entire apparatus off the field while you run outside and scrub. If you think about the amount of time it takes to do that, it might be a few minutes, but it’s a lifetime literally to that patient.’
“Problems like these won’t happen with this new technology.”
I don’t know that this is a particularly big problem with the da Vinci, it’s not like the patient is alone in the room with the machine while the doctor’s across campus. But that’s beside the point, more clues:
“…. the Bionic Robot gives surgeons an intimate feel for what they are doing….
“It’s almost like they are wearing bionic surgical gloves.
“They can actually ‘feel’ what they are doing, adding human sensibilities that a robot alone could never deliver.
“Here’s how Dr. Juan-Carlos Verdeja – Director of Surgery at Baptist Health – describes this game-changing benefit…
‘It has the opportunity to revolutionize the robotic market. The platform allows me to scrub in and work at the patient’s side, and maintains a tactile feel that I want as a surgeon.'”
That has been a complaint, sometimes, about Intuitive Surgical — their robot doesn’t have the “haptic” touch feedback that surgeons would prefer.
And yes, this is another kind of laparoscopic surgery — minimally invasive, like conventional laparoscopy or the da Vinci, the tools and camera go through a small incision (or incisions) and the surgeon performs his (or her) maneuvers under the skin. More from the ad:
“The surgeon makes a small, single incision – often hidden in the patient’s belly button.
“He then inserts a small tube which opens up like an umbrella, delicately positioning tiny surgical instruments inside the patient.
“The surgeon controls the instruments with his hands, all the while watching through a ‘bionic eye’ via a high definition camera.”
And more on that cost differential Tremblay noted:
“Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci robot is priced as high as $2 million, putting it out of reach for most hospitals.
“You might expect this next-generation Bionic Surgeon to be even more expensive…
“I mean, it’s such a drastic improvement, a higher price – even as high as $3.5 million or more – would be justified.
“But it’s not more expensive…
“In fact, this tiny $2 company’s breakthrough Bionic Surgeon is 75% LESS than Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci robot.
“That’s right. While the da Vinci robot can cost $2 million, the Bionic Surgeon will only cost around $500,000.”
Who is it? Here they’re teasing TransEnterix (TRXC), which is a very small company ($180 million market cap, looks like they have plenty of cash) that’s been acquiring other small robotic technology companies in recent years and developing what is, to some extent, a da Vinci competitor.
The machine Tremblay’s mostly referring to is the SurgiBot, which is a smaller, one-port laparoscopy machine, but they also did recently acquire the Italian company behind the Alf-X, which is a multi-port laparoscopy robot that seems more similar to the big da Vinci. The SurgiBot is currently with the FDA for review and TransEnterix expects clearance within the next few months (the general expectation is 6-9 months from submission, and they submitted the application for approval in June).
And our own Dr. KSS went into quite a bit of detail on TransEnterix over the Summer, so I’ll just let you go over and read his article for more background (the stock ha also been discussed pretty widely in the discussion sections of Dr. KSS’s other articles). I don’t have an opinion on this one, though the space seems more competitive now than it was when Intuitive Surgical was getting started — but I wanted to get this teaser solution out to you quickly instead of spending a few hours looking at the stock, but it has sure come down in price in these weeks leading up to possible (likely, most folks seem to think) approval.