3-D Printing Stocks: Why Arcam AB (ADR) Had a Great January, While the Others Were Losers

Arcam looked compelling from a valuation standpoint as we started 2014. How does it and its competitors/peers look as we enter February?

Feb 1, 2014 at 2:15PM

As we bid adieu to January, investors in Sweden-based metals 3-D printing company Arcam (NASDAQOTH:AMAVF) are likely eagerly anticipating the release of the company's fourth-quarter and full-year 2013 results, hoping January's 22.2% stock price rise is just the start of another fantastic year. Meanwhile, investors in industry juggernaut 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD), No. 2 player Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS), industrial-focused ExOne (NASDAQ:XONE), and newcomer to the public markets voxeljet (NYSE:VJET) are likely happy that the volatile month is now in the rearview mirror. The stocks of these companies lost 16.4%, 11.5%, 22.2%, and 9.4%, respectively.

Why was Arcam such a winner, while the others were moderate to big losers? It's likely due to a combination of the valuation situation as we started the month plus the news that came out during the month. Let's take a look.

3-D printing stocks' valuations at start and end of month
Here's what the valuation and market cap picture looked like as we started the month.

Data as of Jan. 3


Market Cap

Annual Revenue (Millions)




Operating Margin (TTM)

Profit Margin (TTM)

3D Systems








































Sources: Yahoo! Finance; voxeljet's third-quarter earnings report.
*For nine-month period through Sept. 30.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Arcam, which focuses exclusively on the medical implant and aerospace industries, looked like the best bet as we started 2014. Arcam and 3D Systems were the only 3-D printing players that were (and still are) profitable from a GAAP standpoint, and Arcam had a lower price-to-earnings ratio and a slightly lower price-to-sales ratio. Additionally, it had (and still has) the best profit margin of the group.

Here's how the 3-D printing companies stack up on valuations and market caps as we close out January. (The annual revenue and margin data remain the same, as none of the companies has yet released fourth-quarter earnings.)


Market Cap




3D Systems

























Data as of Jan. 31. Sources: same as noted in previous table.

Granted, Arcam's now sporting the second-highest P/S ratio among these 3-D printing companies and the highest P/E ratio among the two profitable companies. That said, Arcam is so much smaller than the two major players that -- from a strictly valuation standpoint -- it still looks like a better bet than 3D Systems (and Stratasys, for that matter). The law of large numbers dictates it's easier for smaller companies to post the same percentage increases in revenue and earnings than it is for larger companies.

As to the other two smaller players, ExOne looks a bit pricey from a forward P/E basis, at least in comparison to Arcam's P/E. voxeljet is simply too new a public company -- it went public last October -- to predict with any degree of certainty how its business will progress. Additionally, its valuation is still sky-high compared with the other companies, even the smaller companies, which are best considered its peers. 

Some key events in January
Now, let's look at events than occurred during the month that positively and negatively affected the stock prices of the 3-D printers. Remember, just because events (notably, the ratings moves here) affected stock prices doesn't mean they're relevant to a company's long-term business prospects. There's a lot of noise out there.  

Jan. 7-10 -- New product introductions at Consumer Electronics Show

3D Systems and Stratasys announced many new products and partnerships at this event. Two of the standout new product introductions were 3D Systems' Cube 3, a sub-$1,000 3-D printer, and Stratasys' MakerBot unit's Replicator Mini.

Jan. 14 -- Stratasys announced that it anticipated 2014 earnings will fall short of analysts' estimates.

Stratasys said it expected its 2014 adjusted earnings per share to be in the $2.15 to 2.25 range, below the consensus of $2.31. The company cited a planned significant increase in its operating expenses as the reason, as it intends to ramp up its marketing and R&D activities. Sacrificing short-term profits for activities to maximize long-term growth is a must if Stratasys wants to stay competitive with 3D Systems, so investors shouldn't view this news as negative.

Jan 14 -- ExOne said its 2013 revenue would be less than expected.

ExOne lowered its revenue expectation to a range of $40 million to $42 million, below its prior guidance of $48 million. It cited delayed approvals for foreign sales of four systems. These orders will reportedly be booked in the first half of 2014. This is simply a case of revenue shifting from one quarter to a later quarter or two. ExOne is a smaller company that sells pricey machines (costing $500,000-plus), so quarterly revenue should be expected to be "lumpy" for some time.

Jan. 16 -- 3D Systems announced its teaming with Hershey.

These two companies are teaming to produce 3-D printed edibles and 3-D printers for "prosumers" (professional consumers) that can produce edibles. 

Jan 21 -- Credit Suisse ratings moves.

Credit Suisse dowgraded 3D Systems  to "neutral" from an "outperform" rating, and upgraded Stratasys to "outperform" from "neutral." The firm cited valuation for both moves. 

Jan. 21 -- Arcam's 4:1 stock split became effective.

Jan. 26 -- Stratasys introduced a revolutionary new printer.

Stratasys introduced the Objet500 Connex3, the world's first color multi-material 3-D printer. 

Month of January -- Arcam announced two new orders for its EBM 3-D printers.

Arcam received an order for one electron beam melting system from a leading Chinese medical implant company and one from an U.S.-based aerospace company during January. Though January wasn't a strong month for orders, it followed a strong December, in which the company received four orders and also acquired a powder metals supplier. 

(I've excluded a well-known short-seller's attack on 3D Systems from this list.) 

Bottom line
Arcam was a big winner in January, while the other 3-D printing companies were losers, probably because it had a more compelling valuation as we started 2014, and also because it was the only 3-D printing company that had some positive, but no negative, news associated with it during the month.

Like growth stocks? Check these stocks out. 
Find your next growth stock winner among this tsIf you like growth stocks, you They said it couldn't be done. But David Gardner has proved them wrong time, and time, and time again with stock returns like 926%, 2,239%, and 4,371%. In fact, just recently one of his favorite stocks became a 100-bagger. And he's ready to do it again. You can uncover his scientific approach to crushing the market and his carefully chosen six picks for ultimate growth instantly, because he's making this premium report free for you today. Click here now for access.

Beth McKenna has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of 3D Systems, ExOne, and Stratasys. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of fool.com.

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to www.fool.com/beginners, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at www.fool.com/podcasts.

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers