Stratasys, Ltd. vs. 3D Systems Corporation: More Market Share Isn't Always Better

Stratasys (NASDAQ: SSYS  ) told investors during its fourth-quarter earnings call that, including acquisitions, it has sold more than 75,000 3-D printers since its inception, representing the largest installed base, or market share, of 3-D printers in the world. While this is certainly an encouraging metric that points to a steady stream of recurring revenues from consumable material sales in the future, it doesn't necessarily translate to Stratasys commanding the largest revenue share in the industry. 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD  ) already controls more of the 3-D printing industry's revenue than Stratasys and that isn't expected to change anytime soon.

Breaking it down
In 2012, the worldwide 3-D printing industry generated $2.2 billion in revenues, of which Stratasys contributed $215.2 million and 3D Systems contributed $353.6 million. Using a combination of industry, company, and analyst metrics, we can get an idea of how much revenue share each company is expected to control in 2015.

3-D Printing Revenue Share. Source: 3D Systems, Wohlers Associates, Yahoo! Finance.

In 2015, the 3-D printing industry is expected to generate $4 billion in revenue, of which 3D Systems expects to generate more than $1 billion in sales, and analysts expect Stratasys to generate about $842 million in full-year sales. Although Stratasys is expected to close the revenue gap between itself and 3D Systems by 2% by the end of 2015, it continues to suggest that the largest installed base of printers doesn't always translate to a greatest share of revenues. This likely has to do with the fact that more than 44,000 of Stratasys' 75,000 3-D printers in circulation are low-cost MakerBot 3-D printers, which don't generate nearly as much recurring revenue as higher end professional and industrial printers.

Down the road, it's entirely possible that 3D Systems will control more of the industry's profits than Stratasys even if 3D Systems technically has a smaller market share. Considering that 3D Systems closed out 2013 with a stronger 52.1% gross profit margin versus Stratasys' 46.7%, it seems downright realistic.

Sound familiar?
This sounds a lot like how Google dominates Apple in terms of mobile market share with its open source Android operating system, but Apple ends up controlling the majority of the mobile industry's profits, signifying that Apple's offerings are significantly more valuable on a per unit basis. Applying the same logic to 3D Systems and Stratasys, 3D Systems has a more valuable portfolio on a per printer basis despite technically having lower market saturation. It'd be hard to argue against this logic because 3D Systems has seven different types of sophisticated 3-D printing technologies, covering a wider range of professional and industrial applications than Stratasys could ever dream of.

A more relevant measure
Instead of focusing on market share in the years ahead, 3-D printing investors should focus on revenue share to gauge a company's long-term-profitability prospects. The company that can gain the greatest revenue share is likely going to have the easiest time converting that revenue into more profit over the long term. With 3D Systems expected to outpace Stratasys in terms of revenue share in the years ahead, 3D Systems seems like the better horse to bet on.

1 must-own stock in 2014
There's a huge difference between a good stock and a stock that can make you rich. The Motley Fool's chief investment officer has selected his No. 1 stock for 2014, and it's one of those stocks that could make you rich. You can find out which stock it is in the special free report "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2014." Just click here to access the report and find out the name of this under-the-radar company.

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (17)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 13, 2014, at 1:59 PM, Yahalom wrote:

    OK, 3D is the better bet. But at what price at this point in its growth?

  • Report this Comment On March 15, 2014, at 1:02 PM, Pancakes22 wrote:

    I think its debatable. Jobs really did love marketshare more than anything, in my opinion.

  • Report this Comment On June 17, 2014, at 5:55 AM, dufik wrote:

    Everyone who’s anyone in the industry knows Stratasys and 3D Systems are the two heavyweights to watch in the 3D printing arena. If you’ve dug a little further, especially if you’re interested in investing, you’ll know the publicly released financial earnings stats for the two companies.

    The online space, where users are at, is an excellent 'barometer' for investors. This has given us exclusive insight into potential things to come.

Add your comment.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2874012, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 9/5/2015 8:45:37 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Steve Heller

Covering 3-D printing at the intersection of business, investing, and what it means for the future of manufacturing. Follow me on Twitter to keep up with the ever-changing 3-D printing landscape by clicking the button below.

Today's Market

updated 11 hours ago Sponsored by:
DOW 16,102.38 -272.38 -1.66%
S&P 500 1,921.22 -29.91 -1.53%
NASD 4,683.92 -49.58 -1.05%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

9/4/2015 4:00 PM
DDD $12.72 Down -0.31 -2.38%
3D Systems CAPS Rating: ****
SSYS $28.39 Down -0.53 -1.83%
Stratasys CAPS Rating: ****