Stratasys to Merge With MakerBot in $400 Million Deal

In the latest move to consolidate the additive manufacturing industry, Stratasys (NASDAQ: SSYS  ) announced Wednesday that privately held MakerBot has agreed to merge with one of its subsidiaries in a stock-for-stock transaction.

The terms
The deal, which effectively launches Stratasys firmly into the affordable 3-D printer market, stipulates Stratasys will initially issue around 4.76 million shares in exchange for 100% of the outstanding capital stock of MakerBot. Based on Stratasys' closing price of $84.60 per share Wednesday, that puts MakerBot's value at $403 million.

In addition, MakerBot stakeholders may also qualify for "performance-based earn-outs that provide for the issue of up to an additional 2.38 million shares through the end of 2014." If earned, the payments will be made at Stratasys' discretion in a combination of new shares or cash.

If this sounds familiar...
I suppose the news shouldn't come as a complete shock; back in February, I emphatically stated someone needed to buy MakerBot before the company's incredible growth made it impossible to do so.

Alas, while this does blast my recent prediction of an Amazon.com buyout to bits, I can at least take some solace that Amazon has since launched a dedicated 3-D printing section on its website to bolster the growing market.

Then again, I did originally suggest both 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD  ) and Stratasys could be potential suitors, but noted at the time that an acquisition by the former might be unlikely considering MakerBot was already competing directly with 3D Systems own consumer-oriented Cube printers. And while 3D Systems has so far remained mum regarding specific sales numbers for the Cube, it certainly can't hurt that the devices are set to be sold through Staples both online and at its brick and mortar locations by the end of this month.

What's more, while I believed Stratasys' industrial-centric operations could benefit by adding MakerBot to the mix, I remained skeptical because I wondered whether Stratasys already had its hands full completing the integration of its massive 2012 merger with fellow industry leader Objet.

Problem solved
Fortunately, it seems the folks at Stratasys already had that one figured out, as Wednesday's press release states: "Stratasys intends for MakerBot to operate as a separate subsidiary, preserving its existing brand, management, as well as the spirit of collaboration it has built with its users and partners."

To be sure, that's a great thing when we remember MakerBot boasts an incredibly loyal following, having sold 22,000 3-D printers since its founding in 2009. Most impressive, however, is that number includes 11,000 of its affordable new Replicator 2 desktop models sold over the past nine months alone.

In addition, as fellow Fool Blake Bos pointed out recently, MakerBot has also done a fantastic job growing its enviable model library at Thingiverse.com into the single largest collection of downloadable digital designs for printing physical... uh... things. 

Foolish final thoughts
In the end, my hat's off to Stratasys for wrangling the deal, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who can't wait to see where the combined companies go from here. In the meantime, here's a peek at Stratasys' newest toy:

The Economist compares this disruptive invention to the steam engine and the printing press. Business Insider says it's "the next trillion dollar industry." And everyone from BMW, to Nike, to the U.S. Air Force is already using it every day. Watch The Motley Fool's shocking video presentation today to discover the garage gadget that's putting an end to the Made In China era... and learn the investing strategy we've used to double our money on these three stocks. Click here to watch now!


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