Stratasys (Nasdaq: SSYS ) reports second-quarter results before the opening bell on Wednesday. The 3-D printing expert rolls into this report on a rising tide of investor love; share prices have jumped 25% in the last month and more than doubled year-to-date. The stock got a serious lift when rival 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD ) reported blowout earnings last week.
Will this tremendous momentum carry over into another jump on Wednesday, or are buyers getting ahead of themselves right now?
Wall Street expects Stratasys to report a 39% annual jump in earnings at $0.32 per share. Sales should rise 24% to $46.4 million. Take these projections with a grain of artificial salt -- Stratasys has beaten the Street's earnings targets in each of the last seven reports.
Management doesn't play the quarterly guidance game, but the company does hand out full-year estimates. In the last report, management increased the 2012 revenue range modestly while giving earnings a serious boost. The optimistic bottom-line guidance even considered the expenses that come with Stratasys' recent acquisition of smaller rival Objet. In other words, the underlying business fundamentals look even stronger than the guidance boost would otherwise suggest.
The Objet buy was hailed as a game-changing strike. Stratasys has chosen to focus on industrial customers while 3D Systems goes after the consumer space with more verve and vim. And Objet just happens to have established relationships with some choice corporate customers, including high-end carmaker Jaguar Land Rover, electronics specialist Logitech, all-around industrial giant 3M, and the toy legend LEGO.
None of these titans of hardware currently sell 3-D printed objects directly to consumers (or other corporate clients), but they all benefit from the rapid prototyping and demonstration that comes with the new high-speed manufacturing model. For now, systems from Stratasys and 3D Systems are good for shaving weeks or months off product design schedules with all pf the cost savings that follow. In the future, these machines should spit out stuff we can actually use, based on digital plans that are easy to download and manipulate.
Stratasys isn't cheap after climbing sky-high in early 2012. But we're talking about an early play on an explosive growth sector. It's rare for this kind of extreme growth stock to sport positive earnings, but Stratasys has reported green ink for every fiscal year since 1999. Be sure to tune in to this report to learn more about the company's upcoming products and continued growth plans. In short, I totally understand why the stock is rising right now.
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