Align Technology (ALGN 5.14%) brought a smile to investors' faces with third-quarter earnings results that beat expectations. The dental health stock jumped 39.4% in October, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Over the past year, shares of Align lost a lot of ground due to signs of a slowdown in the face of increasing competition for clear aligners. Since the beginning of 2017, sales and earnings have more than doubled, and a continuation of that pace in the third quarter helped restore a lot of investor confidence.
Align Technology reported Invisalign case shipments rose 20.7% year over year to 385,400, and the company will ship between 400,000 and 407,000 in the fourth quarter. While volume growth is great, investors should know that the average sale price (ASP) that SmileDirectClub (SDC 7.29%) reported during the first half of 2019 was $1,764, while Align Technology's ASP has been hovering around $1,300 for over a year.
While it looks like the Invisalign brand is losing pricing power in the face of competition, that isn't the whole story. SmileDirectClub is able to charge a lot more for its product, but that didn't stop operations from losing $31 million in the first half of 2019.
Align isn't spending nearly as much on advertising as SmileDirectClub, and it isn't losing money, either. In fact, Align reported a 20.9% operating margin despite spending $13.9 million on advertising and marketing in the third quarter.
Investors need to keep an eye on advertising budgets and profit margins from both companies in the quarters ahead. At the moment, though, it looks like undercutting the competition is working out just fine for Align Technology.