3D Systems Corporation (DDD), Stratasys, Ltd. (SSYS): An Unlikely 3D Printing Stock Might Now Be The Favorite

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In 2012, companies 3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD) and Stratasys, Ltd. (NASDAQ:SSYS) were the market’s top performers, with gains of more than 200%. Both companies have dominated the 3D Printing market and have successfully captured the imagination of investors and consumers regarding the possibilities for 3D printing. Yet, as of late, a new favorite has emerged, and that company is ExOne Co (NASDAQ:XONE), but will it continue?

3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD)

A Look At The Leaders

3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD) and Stratasys, Ltd. (NASDAQ:SSYS) combine to control most of the 3D printing space, although different industries. 3D Systems is mostly consumer while Stratasys is the clear industrial winner. Both companies have their niche, and are growing rapidly.

3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD) is forecasting revenue growth of 37% over the next 12 months and Stratasys, Ltd. (NASDAQ:SSYS) has growth expectations of 20%. The industry as a whole is booming: It has grown from $983 million to $2.2 billion during the last six years. Now, with an industry growth rate of 25-30%, many analysts are expecting a $10 billion market in the next 10 years.

Due to the growth and potential of this market, it’s no surprise that investors are particularly bullish when it comes to 3D printing stocks. Thus, both companies are expensive. 3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD) trades at almost 12 times sales and at 36 times next year’s earnings; mostly because of its current growth. Stratasys, Ltd. (NASDAQ:SSYS) trades at 12.5 times sales at 35 times next year’s earnings, despite having slowed growth.

The reason is because many believe Stratasys, Ltd. (NASDAQ:SSYS) has more long-term potential, as aerospace and automotive are expected to be major 3D printing markets. Overall, with such an explosive industry, I say both present long-term upside.

The New Kid On The Block

Combined, Stratasys and 3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD) have almost $650 million in revenue -- ExOne Co (NASDAQ:XONE) has just $33.9 million in revenue over the last 12 months and is not profitable – yet ExOne trades at 20.5 times sales. ExOne is the new 3D printing stock in the market, and investors have responded well. Its valuation relative to fundamentals far exceeds that of its larger competitors. However, with almost 200% year-over-year revenue growth, many believe its short-term outlook and acquisition prospects are great at this time.

While Stratasys and 3D Systems sell printers in more volume, ExOne manufacturers the largest printers for the industrial space. In fact, it sold just five printers during its last quarter, and produced revenue of $7.9 million. The upside for the company lies in the belief that large manufacturers such as those in automotive might eventually begin to use these printers for production. If so, ExOne’s large printers would benefit, as would its metal printing approach.

In the 3D printing space, metal printing has become the new growth industry. Earlier this month, 3D Systems acquired Phenix Systems, a 3D printing company that works with steel, alloys, and precious metals. So far, Stratasys is yet to acquire a metal printing company, but many believe that it will seek an acquisition to capitalize on the potential that it offers. Dare I say that ExOne is available and would provide Stratasys with more diversity in the industrial space.

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