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Stratasys’ (SSYS - Analyst Report) better-than-expected second-quarter results reported last Thursday sparked a mini rally among some of the 3D printing stocks such as 3D Systems (DDD - Analyst Report), The ExOne Company (XONE - Snapshot Report) and Voxeljet (VJET - Snapshot Report). Although share prices cooled during Friday’s trade, these stocks are witnessing some renewed interest among investors.

Moreover, investors’ confidence in the emerging 3D technology stocks stems from the favorable forecasts by market research firms such as Gartner, IDC and Canalys. Per Gartner, worldwide shipments of 3D printers will increase 75% to 98,065 units in 2014 and almost double in 2015. IDC predicted that the 3D printer market will witness a compound annual growth rate of 29% from 2012-2017. Canalys expects the global 3D printing market to soar from $2.5 billion in 2013 to $16.2 billion in 2018.

Major Earnings Releases

Stratasys, a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock, reported better-than-expected second-quarter 2014 results last Thursday. Reported earnings and revenues also compared favorably on a year-over-year basis. The company witnessed improvement in the revenues of both Products and Services segments, which resulted from robust demand for its higher-margin products and services.

Higher demand for its MakerBot products and increased sales of higher-end Fortus and Connex systems boosted the top line. The company also reported strong demand for entry-level Mojo and uPrint 3D printers.

Buoyed by the higher adoption of its 3D technology and printers, Stratasys raised its 2014 guidance as well. The company also updated its long-term operational targets, which includes a 25% organic revenue growth (previous forecast 20% growth).

Despite these positives, higher operating expenses remain a near-term headwind. Management expects operating expenses related to sales & marketing and research & development (R&D) to increase in 2014 to supplement the growing demand for Stratasys’ solutions. (For more details, please read: Stratasys Beats on Q2 Earnings & Revenues; Ups FY14 Outlook).

3D Systems, another 3D stock with a Zacks Rank #3, released second-quarter results on Jul 31, 2014. The company’s top line for the quarter compared favorably year over year driven by increased demand across all its revenue segments.

As expected, margins were impacted by a significant increase in R&D and selling, general and administrative expenses. Nonetheless, encouraged by the company’s revenues and increasing demand for designed and manufactured printers, management has raised its revenue guidance for fiscal 2014. (For more details, please read: 3D Systems Beats on Q2 Earnings, Raises Revenue Guidance.)

Upcoming Results

The remaining two stocks under our review, ExOne and Voxeljet, are slated to release their second-quarter results on Aug 13.

ExOne has a Zacks Rank #3 and Earnings ESP of 0.00%. It is worth noting that in the last reported quarter, the company had a negative earnings surprise of 171.43%.

Voxeljet also has a Zacks Rank #3 and Earnings ESP of 0.00%.  It is worth noting that in the last reported quarter, the company posted a positive earnings surprise of 78.95%.

Performance

Over the last five days, Stratasys was the leading stock as it added about 15.55%. The biggest loser was Voxeljet recording a 5.71% decline in shares. Stratasys was the only stock in the green in terms of returns in the last six months.

Stock Price Chart (as of Aug 8, 2014)

Stocks     Last 5 Days                             Last 6 months

SSYS             15.55%                                      3.26%

DDD                1.02%                                    -27.24%

XONE            -4.58%                                     -32.52%

VJET              -5.71%                                     -56.01%

Conclusion

The 3D printing market presents a favorable long-term investment opportunity as a large number of engineers, designers, architects and entrepreneurs are resorting to 3D solutions for their primary designing and product modeling. We, therefore, believe that the adoption rate and cost control measures will be important factors determining the fortune of the players in this segment.

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