I’m reading a post on Fool.com about their measurement of the best 3D printing stocks during 2017.
The idea here was to check the value of various 3D printing-related publicly traded stocks at the beginning of 2017 and then compare them to how they closed at year end. The results are somewhat interesting, but also not so interesting.
They tracked the primary 3D printing-related stocks, including: Proto Labs and Materialise (3D print service bureaus), and Stratasys, 3D Systems, voxelJet and ExOne (3D printer manufacturers) against the Standard & Poors total return index for 2017.
Here’s what they found:
- Proto Labs 100.60% Gain
- Materialise 65.49% Gain
- voxelJet 59.23% Gain
- Stratasys 20.68% Gain
- ExOne 10.10% Loss
- 3D Systems 35.00% Loss
Two companies, ExOne and 3D Systems, would have lost you money if you bought and held them during 2017. However, the S&P index, which represents the average of many stocks, ranked at a 21.83% Gain for 2017, meaning Stratasys was about even. In other words, a random stock would have likely done as well as Stratasys.
This sort of analysis is interesting in that it can demonstrate the overall feeling of investors towards these companies. But what can we specifically tell from these results?
It seems investors like 3D print services, and it makes sense to me. While individual 3D printer manufacturers rise and fall on their new product announcements and financials, 3D print services need only provide good services to their clients to grow. 3D print services also can more easily ride the increasing interest in the technology than an individual 3D printer manufacturer.
As 3D print services grow, they are likely to buy more 3D printers for their factories. However, there is no guarantee of which 3D printer they will buy, hence the problem for investors seeking a 3D printer manufacturer investment.
But there’s another thing to note here: stock prices rise and fall quite variably throughout the year. If you look at the chart above, it’s clear there was not much happening until May 2017, when things jump around a bit. Also you’ll see some precipitous falls later in the year for some companies, generally after their financial announcements.
The key to investing, as should be obvious, is to buy low and sell high. That requires you to carefully watch the situation and make your buy or sell move at just the right time. You can see in the chart many opportunities for buying and selling to make more money in shorter time periods than a full year.
And that brings me to my last point: while this analysis is from 1 Jan to 31 Dec, it’s not clear to me who exactly would buy and sell a stock on those exact days. No one does that.
A better idea is to follow the information available publicly and make your move when the signs look right.