DDD Chart

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3D Systems' (NYSE:DDD) stock has lost about two-thirds of its value in 2015. It's a reflection that the market wasn't impressed with the results it produced and the moves it made this year. To be fair, though, the above chart doesn't acknowledge that it wasn't all bad for the 3D printing maker in 2015. Indeed, there were a few positive developments for 3D Systems investors in an otherwise negative year. They could even be considered 3D Systems' best moves in 2015.

1. Slowing the pace of acquisitions
3D Systems has gained a reputation of being a serial acquirer, having made around 50 acquisitions to build out its technology portfolio, software suite, and 3D printing services, over the last four or so years.

However, the company changed its tune in 2015 when it announced that it will be slowing the pace of acquisitions, believing it's completed an adequate number of acquisitions to pursue its market opportunity in a meaningful way. Management said it will instead focus on "fine-tuning" the acquisitions already part of 3D Systems. For perspective, 3D Systems completed four acquisitions during the first nine months of 2015 and completed 10 acquisitions in all of 2014.

This was certainly a welcomed development for investors, because less focus on acquisitions means management can allocate more resources toward improving its execution and operational efficiency, two areas that the company has struggled with in the last two years. During this time, 3D Systems has experienced a host of execution issues related to product quality and product delays, which came at the expense of its operational performance and efficiency.

2. Letting Reichental resign
In October, 3D Systems announced that its CEO of 12 years, Avi Reichental, immediately resigned and wouldn't be sticking around during the transition period to a new CEO. Reichental's sudden departure initially sent 3D Systems' shares lower, but it ultimately has the potential to be a positive development. After all, it gives the company an opportunity to distance itself from Reichental's vision, approach to leadership, and hyper-aggressive acquisition strategy, which arguably hasn't been working all that well.

Thus far, an executive management committee has been formed to find a new CEO, but details about the type of candidate the company is looking for or when the position may be filled remain unknown.

3. Services growth
Through the first nine months of 2015, 3D Systems' total revenue increased by a modest 3.6% year over year. By segment, strong 3D printing services growth offset a decline in 3D printer sales:

Segment

Year-to-Date Revenue (millions)

Change (YOY)

3D Systems products

$292.2

(7%)

3D Systems services

$190.7

25%

Data source: 3D Systems.

According to management, 3D Systems' services growth "reflects expanding sales and offerings of healthcare and software services." Digging deeper, though, reveals that these results were padded by recent acquisitions -- especially in software services, which accounted for $24.3 million of 3D Systems' services revenue, significantly higher than the $10.1 million it accounted for during the same period in 2014. Healthcare revenue, which includes both products and services sales, increased by 14.8% to $99.3 million in the same nine-month period, driven by expanding use cases.

Of course, 3D Systems' services revenue growth would be more ideal if acquisitions weren't helping drive the results, but the issue pales in comparison to the larger challenges it faces.

Looking ahead: resist the temptation
Between finding a new CEO and fine-tuning its existing operations, 2016 is sure to be a major rebuilding year for 3D Systems. Unfortunately, the uncertainty that these large undertakings create makes it a challenging situation for investors. Unless the underlying fundamentals of 3D Systems' business improve or investors get better visibility about its path forward, it's probably best to resist the temptation of its beaten-down stock for the time being.

Steve Heller owns shares of 3D Systems. The Motley Fool recommends 3D Systems. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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.