What happened

Shares of 3D-printer maker 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) soared in early trading today, rising nearly 11% before retreating to a gain in the neighborhood of 9.5% as of 12:12 p.m. EST. But why?

It wasn't analyst action that drove this stock up. According to StreetInsider.com, neither upgrades nor price target hikes were relevant to 3D today. And the company itself hasn't issued any positive press releases, which could have explained the sudden enthusiasm.

Bride and groom decorations on two pieces of wedding cake

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

So what drove 3D higher? The most likely explanation can be found in the (web) pages of the 3D Printing Industry news, where an article was published yesterday describing how 3D has teamed up with Brill, Inc. (according to S&P Global Market Intelligence, a subsidiary of Dutch publicly traded company Corbion) to produce a "full-color, professional-grade culinary 3D printing system known as the Brill 3D Culinary Studio."

Beginning with the systems' first installation this summer, the new Brill 3D Culinary Studio will enable chefs to 3D print "edible culinary figures and embellishments." 

Now what

Does this development justify a more than $105 million increase in 3D's market capitalization? Is the market for wedding cake decorations really that big?

Perhaps. But until 3D Systems turns things around financially and begins earning profits after a series of five straight years of losing money, today's price action is more a case of investors grasping at any bit of good news as an excuse to buy back into a stock that's underperformed the S&P 500 by a whopping 45 percentage points over the past year, and is therefore looking historically cheap.

Until 3D Systems proves it can earn a profit, no price may be cheap enough to justify buying this stock.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.