Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
What: Shares of leading 3D printing company Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS) rose 5% today to close at $75.19. Further, as of this writing, shares are up another 2.4% in after-hours trading. Though not a guarantee, a rise in an after-hours trading often bodes well for a stock's performance during the next regular trading session.
So what: There doesn't appear to be any company-specific news out to account for Stratasys' strong performance, though I'll be digging around more. Granted, Stratasys has recently issued a couple of interesting press releases, most notably one on Tuesday regarding global consumer-goods giant Unilever and its slashing of lead times for prototype parts by 40% since introducing Stratasys' PolyJet 3D printing technology into its manufacturing process.
However, Wednesday's rise seems unrelated to any specific news. Stratasys' jump most likely was due to the overall strength in the 3D printing sector. This is a volatile space, so stock price moves of 5% or more can occur in both directions for very little to no reason.
Shares of fellow 3D printing company bigwig 3D Systems also had a good showing on Wednesday, rising 3.9%. All the smaller 3D printing stocks -- except for relatively new public company Materialise -- were also strong, particularly voxeljet, which was the most heavily battered of the group in 2014.
Now what: It's much too early to call today moves in the 3D printing stocks the start of a turnaround, as they weren't that impressive, other than voxeljet's. That said, it's possible that today's strength in the group is at least partially due to a market that's beginning to look ahead to fourth-quarter earnings reports with some enthusiasm. While nothing is a sure thing, I believe it's more likely than not that Stratasys will turn in another solid quarter when it reports Q4 earnings. (Stratasys hasn't issued an exact date yet, though it should be reporting between March 2 and 6.)
Stay tuned -- I'll be covering Stratasys' upcoming Q4 results.
Beth McKenna has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Apple and Stratasys. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.