Proto Labs (PRLB 0.92%), a contract manufacturer of 3D-printed products for prototypes and custom production runs, is making quite a run itself Friday morning.
Shares of the 3D-printing company were up 12.6% as of 11 a.m. ET after it reported big beats on both the top and bottom lines for the fourth quarter.
Ahead of the Q4 report, analysts had forecast that Proto Labs would earn $0.27 per share, adjusted, on sales of $117.4 million. In fact, it grew its sales 18% year over year to $123.6 million. Meanwhile, the company's adjusted (i.e., non-GAAP) profits were $0.41 per share, and its GAAP profits (calculated according to generally accepted accounting principles) were even better -- up 19% year over year to $0.43 per share.
That was a superb performance for the quarter, and indicates significant improvement after a year when Proto Labs' numbers were often weaker. For all of 2021, in fact, sales grew only 12% to $488.1 million, and net profit per diluted share declined by 36% to $1.21.
Free cash flow for the year also declined, falling 65% to just $21 million.
President and CEO Rob Bodor pronounced himself "pleased" with the quarter's results, noting that both growth and revenue exceeded management's expectations. It was a happy result after what he described as "a transformative year" during which Proto Labs has become "the only company with industry-leading in-house digital manufacturing capabilities coupled with a premium network of manufacturing partners."
So what comes next? Management actually didn't give any guidance for 2022, but analysts are forecasting revenue growth of 6% to $521 million, and a resumption in profit growth to $1.64 per share (which would amount to a 35.5% increase).
No wonder investors are bidding the stock price up.