Every day thousands more are becoming aware of “additive manufacturing,” or 3D printing technology, each convinced it might be the coolest thing to sweep in the next technological generation. For the not-yet-initiated: It’s a process that “prints” objects, big and small, even with moving parts.
For a small idea of what 3D printing can do, watch this time-lapse video of the The MakerBot machine printing a miniature Yoda bust:
3D printing, which has been used in industrial production since the 1980s, is now spilling into retail. 3D printing already allows for the production of everything from customized coffee mugs, gun replicas, dental crowns that can be prepared in as little as 15 minutes, customized knee caps, custom mechanical parts and tools, and of course toys and fashion accessories (from bracelets to shoes).
Race car manufacturers have used additive manufacturing for years to build specialized parts for their vehicles. General Electric (GE) has also jumped on the bandwagon in their production facilities. This technology might even help revive the American manufacturing sector, as suggested by the government’s $30 million funding program.
3D Printing Goes Mainstream
The retail and consumer component of 3D printing is relatively new but it is already showing promising signs of growth. Staples (SPLS) recently announced that it will offer 3D printing in certain stores in Europe — perhaps if that goes well, they will do the same in the US.
There is a retail MakerBot shop (one of the leading consumer 3D printer companies) in Manhattan where hobbyests can buy personal machines and anyone can buy 3D printed trinkets (a winning stocking stuffer – examples in article image). To put it one way, “who wouldn’t want a machine in their house that can produce everything?” Although many are deterred by the $2000 price per unit (not including the “ink”).
3D in the Stock Market
Two companies, 3D Systems Corp. (DDD) and Stratasys Inc. (SSYS), stand out as the market leaders in 3D printing. They produce machines and special ink for all sorts of specialties, from healthcare to construction, to hobby art and beyond. Dassault Systemes SA (DASTY) provides 3D and product lifecycle management solutions.
Below is a look at the 1 year stock prices and quarterly sales for three companies 3D Systems Corp. (DDD), Stratasys Inc. (SSYS) and Dassault Systemes SA (DASTY). Clearly, as the ideas and practical uses of 3D printing caught on share price and sales have climbed.
Risk comes with the reward. The space is new and full of opportunity, but it is not immune from competition and economic cycles. The share prices of these stocks are inflated, in hope of stellar future profits and continued growth. Should that growth falter, investors would not be happy. For example, shares of these 3D leaders slumped in mid-November: “Unrelated but relevant negative sentiment led by the fiscal cliff, weakness in China, and a recession in Europe could be to blame. For 3D printing, there is skepticism. CNET wondered if 3D printing is in a bubble.”
Use the charts and data below to help you jump-start your analysis of these names.
1. 3D Systems Corp. (DDD, Earnings, Analysts, Financials): Engages in the design, development, manufacture, marketing, and servicing of 3D printers and related products, print materials, and services. Market cap at $2.63B, most recent closing price at $46.14.
2. Stratasys Inc. (SSYS, Earnings, Analysts, Financials): Engages in the development, manufacture, and marketing of three dimensional (3D) printing, rapid prototyping (RP), and direct digital manufacturing (DDM) systems primarily in North America, Europe, and the Asia Pacific. Market cap at $1.58B, most recent closing price at $72.31.
3. Dassault Systemes SA (DASTY, Earnings, Analysts, Financials): Dassault Systèmes SA provides 3D and product lifecycle management solutions worldwide. Market Cap at $14.0 billion. Most recent closing price at $111.50
Written by Fay Faatin
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