3D printing company Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS) reported its third-quarter earnings  this morning, and the market is not happy, as shares have dropped by nearly 14% in early trading.

Analysts had expected $195.5 million in revenue and adjusted earnings of $0.57 per share. Revenue came in ahead of expectations at $203.6 million, and despite Stratasys' ongoing acquisition binge spiking its GAAP costs, adjusted earnings of $0.58 per share still beat Wall Street's bottom-line estimates. On a GAAP basis, Stratasys reported a steep loss of $0.62 per share, which is the company's worst GAAP result since it began focusing on pro forma results in late 2011 after its merger with Objet. However, Stratasys reported that it has now sold more than 110,000 3-D printers for the year to date, which is the first time in company history that it has moved six figures of systems in one fiscal year. Last year, by comparison, Stratasys sold roughly 76,000  systems.

The third quarter wasn't what sent investors scurrying, though. Stratasys held fast on its full-year revenue guidance, which ranges from $750 million to $770 million, and reduced its EPS guidance by four cents to account for higher costs as a result of an acquisition, from a $2.25 to $2.35 range to a $2.21 to $2.31 range. Now that three quarters of data are in, we can calculate the company's expected results for the fourth quarter based on this full-year data, and both estimates now undershoot Wall Street's expectations. Where Wall Street had projected $234.8 million in revenue and $0.78 in EPS, the midpoint of Stratasys' guidance now anticipates $226.7 million in revenue and $0.73 in adjusted EPS.

Let's take a look at what the top- and bottom-line numbers for this quarter and next quarter look like on a timeline of Stratasys' recent progress. As we may discover, Stratasys is its own worst enemy today, as its guidance remains very strong for the fourth quarter, despite its bottom-line cutback today.

Ssysrevenueq
Sources: Stratasys earnings reports.

Ssysepsq
Sources: Stratasys earnings reports.

As you can see, Stratasys' slowing top-line growth shouldn't be so concerning when you look at its bottom line -- and "slowing" in this regard is rather relative, since most companies would kill for quarterly top-line growth of nearly 50%. Stratasys' adjusted EPS, which will the company expects to rise to roughly $2.26 for the full year, will surge 46% higher over the fourth quarter of 2013 if Stratasys hits the midpoint of its new guidance range. That's the fastest year-over-year growth rate Stratasys will muster on its bottom line since it began reporting its EPS as the combination of its and Objet's earnings in late 2011.

This isn't the first time that Stratasys has reduced its EPS guidance. The company cut full-year EPS guidance by five cents in its second-quarter  report in 2013. However, shares popped after that report because the bottom-line haircut came paired with a hefty top-line boost of $25 million to $35 million. This year, the company isn't offering similar upgrades to offset the disappointment of weaker earnings.

Unfortunately, Stratasys no longer provides separate revenue figures for MakerBot now that the consumer-focused segment has reached a point where it can be counted as organic revenue. The company did say that MakerBot-sourced revenue "increased by over 80%" over the pro forma revenue it reported for MakerBot in the year-ago quarter. MakerBot generated roughly $23.2 million in revenue in the year-ago quarter based on the half-quarter of data Stratasys offered at the time, so this quarter would have seen roughly $41.8 million in MakerBot revenue if my calculations hold up.

An 80% year-over-year growth rate is nothing to sneeze at, but keep in mind that last year's data implied a sequential growth rate of 64% from second to third quarters (second-quarter data was also somewhat incomplete on a quarterly basis, as Stratasys only offered data for the combined first half), and this result is roughly 24% higher than the $33.6 million MakerBot pulled in during the second quarter. If Stratasys ceases to report MakerBot's results in any way, it will be a major setback to investors who have been closely watching the consumer 3D printing space for signs of widespread adoption.

Stratasys will probably aim for more conservative guidance following today's share-price plunge, and it would be a sensible tactic to adopt after two EPS guidance reductions in the past year and a half. The market virtually never punishes a company for surpassing "decent" expectations, but it can be unforgiving when sky-high targets can't be reached.

Editor's note: A previous version of this article treated MakerBot's revenue for the second half of Q3 2013, after Stratasys acquired it, as its revenue for a full quarter. The Fool regrets the error.

Alex Planes holds no financial position in any company mentioned here. Follow him on Twitter @TMFBiggles or connect with him on LinkedIn for more insight into investing, markets, economic history, and cutting-edge technology.

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