What happened

Shares of 3D printer maker The ExOne Company (NASDAQ:XONE), which soared yesterday on news of what looks as if it will be an earnings beat for fiscal Q4 2020, are tearing it up again Tuesday -- having risen 14.1% as of 12:12 p.m. EST trading.

Helping to keep the momentum going today is a note from investment bank B. Riley, which just more than quadrupled its price target on ExOne stock in response to the preannouncement.

3D printer

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Riley cited ExOne's preannouncement yesterday as the basis for its higher price target today -- but really, one imagines it was more of an excuse than an explanation.

Up until this morning, you see, Riley had estimated ExOne's value at just $10.50 per share and rated the stock "neutral," according to StreetInsider.com. Given that the stock closed above $54 a share yesterday, though, that seemed a bit incongruous. (When a stock costs five times what you say it is worth, shouldn't you recommend selling it?)

ExOne's announcement yesterday, though, that fiscal 2020 sales will almost certainly exceed the 10% growth that Wall Street has been calling for, and its announcement of a new "complete metal 3D printing system" expected to double the company's growth rate in the New Year, gave Riley the perfect excuse to bring its price target on the shares more in line with where they're trading today.

Now what

You'll notice, however, that despite the improved price target, Riley couldn't quite bring itself to raise its rating on the stock and actually recommend buying ExOne. Why might that be?

Without being able to read the analyst's mind, I hesitate to say. But here are a few numbers that might help to illustrate the problem: At a market capitalization of $1.3 billion today, ExOne stock remains (at last report) unprofitable (negative $13 million in trailing earnings) and free cash flow negative (negative $14 million), and it sells for 21 times its trailing sales (even adjusted for the new Q4 sales projection).

My guess? Its adjusted price target notwithstanding, Riley still thinks ExOne stock costs too much.

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.