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Intuitive Surgical approves $1B stock buyback

SUNNYVALE, Calif. (AP) -- Intuitive Surgical Inc., which has seen its stock slump this month on concerns about the usefulness of its da Vinci robotic surgical system in some procedures, said Thursday it approved the buyback of an additional $1 billion in company stock.

The funds will become available April 23. Intuitive said it had $208 million remaining on its previous stock repurchase authorization, giving it a total of $1.21 billion in funds to buy back shares.

The shares fell about 20 percent in early March as worries grew following reports that the Food and Drug Administration is asking surgeons about complications they may have seen in patients and which surgeries the system suits best.

Last week the head of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said robotic surgery should not be the first or even second choice for most women who need a hysterectomy.

On Friday the shares reached a 52-week low of $455.18, but the stock rallied somewhat on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Shares of Intuitive Surgical lost 52 cents to $495.35 in midday trading Thursday.