Shares of robotic surgical device maker Intuitive Surgical Inc. continued to climb Wednesday after the company posted strong first-quarter results and raised its expectations for the rest of 2012.

THE SPARK: Intuitive Surgical posted its quarterly results after the market closed on Tuesday. The company's profit and revenue both surpassed Wall Street estimates as more procedures were performed with its da Vinci surgery system. Sales of the system increased, and Intuitive said it benefited from a lower tax rate than it had expected.

THE BIG PICTURE: The da Vinci system is used in procedures including heart, colorectal, head and neck, and urology and gynecology operations. Intuitive said the strongest growth in the first quarter came from use of the system in general surgeries and gynecology and urology procedures.

The Sunnyvale, Calif., company said it now expects its annual revenue to grow 19 to 21 percent in 2012, which implies a total of $2.09 billion to $2.13 billion. Intuitive had expected growth of 17 to 19 percent and analysts were forecasting revenue of $2.08 billion, according to FactSet.

Intuitive said it expects surgical procedures performed with the da Vinci system to grow 25 to 27 percent this year, suggesting a total of about 450,000 to 457,000. The company had called for growth of 24 to 26 percent.

THE ANALYSIS: William Blair & Co. analyst Ben Andrew said the company reported "impressive and durable" procedure growth, and he expects the company to continue experiencing strong revenue and procedure growth for the next several years. He maintained an "Outperform" rating on Intuitive Surgical stock.

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Jeremy Feffer agreed the results are "stellar," but said he feels the stock has become overpriced. Nevertheless, Feffer raised his price target to $475 per share from $460 because of the results, but added, "We would prefer not to chase the stock here."

SHARE ACTION: Intuitive Surgical shares rose $45.71, or 8.4 percent, to $591.24 in afternoon trading. Earlier the stock reached an all-time high of $594.89. Shares of Intuitive Surgical are up 42.5 percent over the last six months dating back to the company's third-quarter report.