Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS) is slated to report its second-quarter earnings before the market opens on Thursday, July 30. The leading 3-D printing company didn't preannounce earnings, as it did in the previous two quarters, so there don't appear to be any huge negative shocks coming again.
Here's what analysts are expecting for the quarter and year:
|Analysts' Q2 revenue estimate||$182.1 million (2.2% year-over-year growth)|
|Analysts' Q2 adjusted earnings estimate||$0.15 (73% YOY decrease)|
|Analysts' 2015 revenue estimate||$817.1 million (8.9% YOY growth)|
|Analysts' 2015 adjusted earnings estimate||$1.34 (33% YOY decrease)|
Here's what to focus on in the report:
MakerBot was the primary culprit behind Stratasys significantly missing earnings estimates in the last two quarters. The desktop 3-D printer maker was also the major reason the company ratcheted back its original 2015 guidance.
MakerBot's sales slowed to a 7% year-over-year increase in the fourth quarter of 2014 and then dropped 18% in the first quarter of this year. Quality issues with the fifth-generation Replicator, released last year, were largely to blame. Additionally, Stratasys took goodwill impairment charges of $102 million and $194 million, respectively, for MakerBot in the previous two quarters. Such charges mean Stratasys considerably overpaid when it shelled out $403 million for MakerBot in mid-2013.
It would be unrealistic to expect that MakerBot's troubles are fully behind it. However, we don't want to see any more surprises to the downside. Stratasys said last quarter that it expects MakerBot's 2015 revenue to be down roughly 25% to 30%, but projects that its growth rate will ramp up to, or exceed, overall company averages by 2016. Investors should be looking for management to maintain these projections.
The capital spending environment
Stratasys also experienced weakness in its core enterprise-focused business last quarter, which accounts for the lion's share of the company's revenue (88% last quarter). Importantly, enterprise products sport higher margins than MakerBot's offerings.
Stratasys attributed the tepid demand for systems to several factors, including the negative impact from a strong U.S. dollar. The most concerning reason cited, however, was a decline in capital spending among certain industries, particularly in North America. Investors should focus on how Stratasys views this situation going forward. A relatively temporary tightening of corporate wallets due to economic uncertainty is one thing; a protracted slowdown is another.
A core question is whether some customers are delaying purchases to see what competitive offerings are on the horizon from others, most notably from Hewlett-Packard in 2016. Given the current environment, this will be a challenging potential factor to tease out.
Stratasys' print materials -- or consumables -- revenue grew 18%, or 25% on a constant-currency basis last quarter. This was arguably the brightest spot in the company's earnings report. Positively, growth was driven not only by its expanding installed base of systems but also by customers' increased use of their existing systems.
This strength demonstrates how Stratasys' razor-and-blades-based business model can continue to generate recurring revenue from its installed base even in challenging times.
Investors should closely monitor this metric going forward as -- barring a notable change in business model and strategy -- it's key to Stratasys' future success. Consumables are a gross profit-margin engine, sporting the highest margin among the components of Stratasys' business.
The usual: Organic growth and average selling prices
Organic growth (revenue growth in businesses owned for at least one year) last quarter was an anemic 1%, or 6% on a constant-currency basis. (It's best to consider revenue growth on a constant-currency basis when gauging how well a company's underlying business is performing.)
MakerBot's revenue dropped 18% last quarter, so Stratasys' enterprise-focused business showed greater than 6% organic growth on a constant-currency basis. We'd obviously like to see a boost in this number.
On a positive note, Stratasys' management has maintained that it hasn't seen a decline in average selling prices. Gross margins fell last quarter on both a sequential and year-over-year basis, but this was attributed primarily to a change in product mix, as well as a couple of other factors, not a decline in ASPs.
We don't like to see margins fall for any reason. However, a change in product mix is often a temporary situation due to timing of product introductions and other factors, whereas a margin decline due to falling ASPs is more worrisome as it's indicative of a company losing pricing power.
Focuses on Thursday: Enterprise business and consumables
MakerBot's troubles get a lot of press, as they've been significant. That said, MakerBot contributes only a relatively small percentage to Stratasys' overall revenue and an even smaller percentage to its bottom line. Investors should focus more attention on the enterprise business: This business, along with recurring revenue stream from high-margin consumables, will be what makes or breaks Stratasys' fortunes going forward, in my opinion.
Beyond just the quarterly numbers, focus on how well management is executing in a challenging economic climate and what innovations are on the radar to help the company beef up its moat in what surely will become an increasingly competitive environment.