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3D Systems Corporation (DDD), Stratasys, Ltd. (SSYS): Here’s How They Stack Up

Stratasys, Ltd. (NASDAQ:SSYS)’ operating margins during the same period: 5.9% (2009), 11.5% (2010), 18.6% (2011), and 8% (2012). The merger with Objet affected 2012 GAAP earnings, and hence, margins.

ExOne has a positive forward P/E (albeit huge), meaning analysts expect it be profitable this year. Given its focus, it could carve itself out a niche.

Organova is very speculative; I mention it mainly for awareness purposes.

As might be expected for these volatile stocks, betas are high:  2.1 for 3D Systems and 1.9 for Stratasys (the others are too new to have betas). Short interest is also high; 23% of float for 3D Systems and 13% for Stratasys, Ltd. (NASDAQ:SSYS) is sold short.

Foolish bottom line

There’s little doubt that 3-D printing will be a major disruptive technology. The industry is expected to grow at a 25+% annual clip for the next six or more years.

That said, identifying the eventual winner or winners is especially difficult with emerging technologies. Thus, those interested in investing in 3-D printing might consider buying a couple companies to cover more bases. I’m not suggesting investing more than you might otherwise, just that you divide what you’d invest in one stock into two, or perhaps three. One huge winner will more than offset one or two so-so stocks or even losers.

While both major 3-D printers are profitable, they’re also quite volatile. They’re best suited to those with higher-risk tolerances.

BA McKenna has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends 3D Systems and Stratasys. The Motley Fool owns shares of 3D Systems and Stratasys and has the following options: Short Jan 2014 $36 Calls on 3D Systems and Short Jan 2014 $20 Puts on 3D Systems.

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