Intuitive Surgical Gains as Share Buyback Plan Expanded

Intuitive Surgical Inc. doubled its stock repurchase program to $1.5 billion, sending shares of the embattled maker of robot surgery devices up the most in two months.

The board approved the repurchase of $779 million of shares, adding to the $721 million that was already authorized under the program, the Sunnyvale, California-based Intuitive said today in a statement. As part of the program, Intuitive will buy back $500 million of its shares from Goldman Sachs Group Inc., with the majority expected to be bought within two weeks.

Intuitive shares had fallen by a third since Bloomberg News reported in February that U.S. regulators were surveying surgeons about the company’s robots following a rise in reports that included as many as 70 deaths since 2009. Reports of injuries involving robot procedures have doubled in the first six months of 2013 compared with a year earlier, Food and Drug Administration records show.

“We will have to wait for some time to see if management will be successful in buoying or stabilizing the stock,” said Suraj Kalia of Northland Securities Inc. in a telephone interview.

Intuitive rose 2.3 percent to $391 at the close of trading in New York, the shares’ largest single-day climb since May 24.

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