Contrasting MSA Safety (MSA) and Intuitive Surgical (ISRG)

MSA Safety (NYSE: MSA) and Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG) are both industrial products companies, but which is the superior investment? We will contrast the two companies based on the strength of their valuation, earnings, analyst recommendations, dividends, risk, profitability and institutional ownership.

Earnings and Valuation

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This table compares MSA Safety and Intuitive Surgical’s gross revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio Net Income Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
MSA Safety $1.20 billion 3.08 $26.02 million $3.87 24.83
Intuitive Surgical $3.13 billion 17.50 $660.00 million $7.19 67.21

Intuitive Surgical has higher revenue and earnings than MSA Safety. MSA Safety is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Intuitive Surgical, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Institutional and Insider Ownership

69.0% of MSA Safety shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 85.4% of Intuitive Surgical shares are owned by institutional investors. 9.9% of MSA Safety shares are owned by insiders. Comparatively, 2.2% of Intuitive Surgical shares are owned by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that endowments, large money managers and hedge funds believe a company will outperform the market over the long term.

Analyst Ratings

This is a summary of recent recommendations for MSA Safety and Intuitive Surgical, as reported by

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
MSA Safety 0 1 2 0 2.67
Intuitive Surgical 0 3 12 0 2.80

MSA Safety currently has a consensus price target of $100.00, suggesting a potential upside of 4.06%. Intuitive Surgical has a consensus price target of $453.24, suggesting a potential downside of 6.20%. Given MSA Safety’s higher probable upside, equities research analysts plainly believe MSA Safety is more favorable than Intuitive Surgical.

Volatility and Risk

MSA Safety has a beta of 1.47, indicating that its share price is 47% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Intuitive Surgical has a beta of 0.57, indicating that its share price is 43% less volatile than the S&P 500.


MSA Safety pays an annual dividend of $1.52 per share and has a dividend yield of 1.6%. Intuitive Surgical does not pay a dividend. MSA Safety pays out 39.3% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. MSA Safety has raised its dividend for 46 consecutive years.


This table compares MSA Safety and Intuitive Surgical’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
MSA Safety 3.50% 26.05% 10.08%
Intuitive Surgical 23.25% 20.72% 17.70%


Intuitive Surgical beats MSA Safety on 11 of the 17 factors compared between the two stocks.

About MSA Safety

MSA Safety Incorporated develops, manufactures, and supplies safety products that protect people and facility infrastructures in the oil, gas, petrochemical, fire service, construction, utilities, and mining industries worldwide. It operates through Americas and International segments. The company's core product offerings include permanently installed fixed gas and flame detection instruments, such as permanently installed gas detection monitoring systems, and flame detectors and open-path infrared gas detectors, as well as replacement components and related services to detect the presence or absence of various gases in the air. Its core product offerings also consist of breathing apparatus products, such as self-contained breathing apparatus, face masks, and respirators; hand-held portable gas detection instruments; industrial head protection products; firefighter helmets and protective apparel; and fall protection equipment comprising confined space equipment, harnesses, fall arrest equipment, lanyards, and lifelines. In addition, the company offers respirators, eye and face protection products, ballistic helmets, and gas masks. It serves distributors, and industrial or military end-users through indirect and direct sales channels. The company was founded in 1914 and is based in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania.

About Intuitive Surgical

Intuitive Surgical, Inc. designs, manufactures, and markets da Vinci surgical systems, and related instruments and accessories. The company's da Vinci surgical System translates a surgeon's natural hand movements, which are performed on instrument controls at a console into corresponding micro-movements of instruments positioned inside the patient through small incisions or ports. Its da Vinci surgical system include surgeon's consoles, patient-side carts, 3-D vision systems, da Vinci skills simulators, da Vinci Xi integrated table motions, and Firefly fluorescence imaging products that enable surgeons to perform various surgical procedures, including gynecologic, urologic, general, cardiothoracic, and head and neck surgical procedures. The company also manufactures EndoWrist instruments that include forceps, scissors, electrocautery, scalpels, and other surgical tools, which incorporate wrist joints for natural dexterity for various surgical procedures. In addition, it offers da Vinci Single-Site instruments and accessories that allow surgical systems to work through a single incision; and EndoWrist One vessel sealers that are wristed single-use instruments intended for bipolar coagulation and mechanical transection of vessels up to 7 mm in diameter and tissue bundles that fit in the jaws of the instrument. Further, the company provides EndoWrist stapler, a wristed stapling instrument intended for resection, transection, and/or creation of anastomoses, as well as sells various accessories, including replacement 3-D stereo endoscopes, camera heads, light guides, and other items that facilitate use of the da Vinci system, as well as sterile drapes for ensuring a sterile field during surgery. Intuitive Surgical, Inc. markets its products directly and through distributors in the United States, Europe, Asia, and internationally. The company was founded in 1995 and is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California.

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