Earlier I commented on 3D Systems and Stratasys’ first quarter financial results. Today it’s VoxelJet and ExOne.
It’s important to watch these numbers, because they are the only reliable way to catch a glimpse of what’s really going in the world of 3D printing. Manufacturers can spin stories one way or another, but all publicly traded companies must provide standard financial reports through which one can compare them and observe trends in a consistent manner.
Unfortunately, for privately held companies, there is no such obligation to publish such detailed financial information, so we won’t really know if they’re going out of business until they do!
But let’s take a look at these two companies.
VoxelJet is an interesting Germany-based company that provides very large format 3D printing equipment designed specifically for industrial molds for casting. They’ll print a sand-type mold into which liquid metal is cast. VoxelJet makes pretty much the largest 3D printer you can buy, build volume-wise with their VX4000 providing an amazing 4,000 x 2,000 x 1,000 of build space.
So how did they do this quarter? Evidently not very well. Their revenues decreased by almost 13% compared to last year’s first quarter. Worse, their gross margin (the basic amount of profit per unit) decreased from 33.6% to 27.3%. Sales of systems decreased only slightly, but their services revenue decreased significantly by almost 25%, in spite of opening up a service center in the USA recently. Apparently the problem was with their UK services operation, which has now been “restructured”. Some of the losses can be attributed to currency fluctuations.
Their CEO is still confident of growth in the future, and I don’t doubt this, as VoxelJet offers a relatively unique product that simply needs to be sold more aggressively. Nevertheless, a pretty tough assessment for shareholders.
Meanwhile, ExOne also delivered their quarterly report. The company also produces 3D printers capable of industrial sand cores and molds, but also produces metal 3D printing equipment, which should be in relatively high demand.
News was better, as their quarterly revenue increased by almost 24%. However, that revenue was insufficient to make a profit in the quarter, and the company declared a loss of USD$5.48M. In fact, the company has been posting quarterly losses for quite a while, usually in the USD$0.50 per share range. Their stock price has been mostly stable for about a year, however around the USD$10 mark, but prior to that it took a heavy loss, dropping from a high around USD$65. Buyers of the stock at that time must be very disappointed.
These results are not notably different from those of 3D Systems and Stratasys: business is down somewhat. However, the two larger companies both have very significant cash reserves with which they can carry through any slump. It’s not clear to me whether ExOne or VoxelJet have similar-sized reserves.
For investors, this is the moment to invest if you believe these companies can recover. Buy low, sell high, they say.