By Noel Feans, via Wikimedia Commons
We're almost exactly halfway through the year and the streets have not exactly been paved with gold for publicly-listed 3D printing companies.
Last year, 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD), ExOne (NASDAQ:XONE) and Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS) all finished higher on the Manhattan-based lists, while in Sweden, Arcam AB (STO:ARCM) finished December higher, rising to kr250.00 at New Year.
The first six months of 2014 have been eventful, if less than auspicious for the Big Three in North America at the very least, nevertheless the media has been quick to report that SLM Solutions and Materialise are entering the fold after much speculation, while fellow European 3D printing business voxeljet (NYSE:VJET) has not been having an easy time on the New York Stock Exchange since its October 2013 arrival on the Manhattan list.
The 3D printing giant has endured a steady decline in the first half after peaking over the New Year at $96.42 per unit. What goes up most certainly goes down in this instance, as the company’s stratospheric rise over the course of 2013 could not be sustained into 2014 and now the company is hovering over its June 2013 share price of around $47 per unit at $50 per unit this week.
It could be argued that much of the clout behind 3D Systems' stock market prowess in 2013 was down to its string of acquisitions, enabling the company to bring established experts and cutting-edge technologies into the 3D Systems brand. In January, the company completed its acquisition of Xerox's Oregon-based solid ink engineering and development labs and days later it announced it was buying modelmaker for film and television Gentle Giant Studios. In April, 3D Systems revealed it was making further inroads into 3D printing growth area medical, by acquiring Medical Modeling, which is based in Colorado.
Over the past four years, so since before the so-called 3D Printing Boom, 3D Systems has acquired nearly 50 companies and there is a perpetual air of speculation as to which business Rock Hill will target next. Indeed, Arcam has been singled out as a possible candidate for acquisition, but Stratasys has also been named as a potential buyer as rumours circulate.
At close on the New York Stock Exchange last night (June 5th), 3D Systems ended higher by 0.69 per cent, maintaining a month of stability, but the threat of dipping to sub-2013 levels grows ever closer.
Stratasys' share price pattern is mimicking 3D Systems, which is hardly surprising considering the two are considered direct rivals in terms of market penetration and economic power. Stratasys, like 3D Systems, experienced its 52-week peak at New Year, climbing to $136.46 per unit from its 52-week low of $78.48 exactly one year ago from today. Stratasys is not as high above its June 2013 mark as the company and its investors would probably like. At close of play on the NASDAQ last night, Stratasys shares rallied by 1.48 per cent to $91.64. The company's share price has plunged by more than $10 in a week before and like 3D Systems, Stratasys will be hoping to tread water at the very least before its official H1 data is announced.
The similarities with 3D Systems end where acquisition patterns are concerned. Stratasys' most famous acquisition until June 2013 was Z-Corp, but last year's merger with MakerBot was arguably the story of the year and the company has been benefitting financially from the deal pretty much ever since both parties signed on the dotted line.
This year's acquisitions have been as equally calculated and potentially lucrative. Stratasys does not appear to Hoover up companies, it bides its time for the biggest fish, which is why Arcam is also rumoured to be in Stratasys' crosshairs. The company has made two canny acquisitions so far in 2014, buying the US's largest independent additive manufacturing service bureau Solid Concepts and Harvest Technologies. Both companies are expected to provide Stratasys with considerable manufacturing capabilities and complement the industry leader's digital manufacturing operation RedEye, establishing a single, all-powerful service provider in the States.
Investors appear to be waiting to see the colour of the money post acquisition, however, as Stratasys' choppy decline over the first half has been rocky.
ExOne went public early in 2013 and endured the ups and downs that are quite normal for a newcomer. After a long rally over July, August and September 2013, ExOne suffered a sharp plunge in share price and did not regain much ground ahead of Christmas, missing out on the rallies 3D Systems and Stratasys enjoyed. Unfortunately, the metal additive manufacturing company was struck by January bearishness and, like 3D Systems, has watched its share price dwindle ever since. This was not helped by the fact late orders affected the company's full-year results for 2013.
ExOne acquired MWT and Machin-A-Mation in March and its H1 figures, when they are released in the weeks to come, will hopefully reflect some of the benefits of these deals.
There have been rumours that ExOne itself could be acquired. However, ExOne is a long-established industrial 3D printing company with a recognisable brand and an international presence, so this line of speculation is recommended to be treated with an eyebrow raised, but as seen with MakerBot, it would be unwise to pooh-pooh the possibility of a major 3D printing brand being bought out.
At close of play last night, ExOne's standing on the NASDAQ was up by more than one per cent to $28.75, however this is significantly lower than the $50 per unit share price the then-newcomer enjoyed exactly 12 months ago, while the company is also climbing out of the 52-week nadir of $25.50 it struck just a fortnight ago.
Arcam AB on the Stockholm Stock Exchange enjoyed a steady climb up until New Year, but some investors were given the unpleasant shock of a 70 per cent crash on January 21st when its share price plummeted to kr288.50, down from the kr900 unit prices enjoyed at New Year.
There was no need for immediate panic, however, because this was due to the fact Arcam's 4:1 stocks split and in reality the Swedish additive manufacturing company rallied by 7.8 per cent that day.
Over the first quarter of 2014, Arcam closed its acquisition of AP&C from Raymor Industries in Canada, a metal powder manufacturer, while the company has been making headlines thanks to its major aerospace developments and orders for industrial additive manufacturing machines from all over the world. For the full year, Arcam expects machine sales to surpass those of 2013 and anticipates improved revenues as a whole and it seems likely the company's H1 data will have a significant bearing on whether this looks achievable.
Today, Arcam's share price was stable at kr185.50.
It should be kept in mind that voxeljet has only been publicly listed since late October 2013. Like its fellow Manhattan-listed contemporaries 3D Systems and Stratasys, voxeljet enjoyed a December spike followed by a decline throughout the first half of 2014.
The industrial additive manufacturing systems manufacturer and 3D technology developer entered the stock market at $30 per unit but since its 52-week zenith of $68.37 per unit in December, investors have been left more than $50 short.
As with Arcam AB and ExOne, there is speculation that it is in fact voxeljet that could be snapped up by a bigger fish, with numerous financial commentators suggesting this is on the cards.
Nevertheless, voxeljet is anticipating growth in excess of 50 per cent for 2014 with seven of its large 3D printers making up its backlog of orders for the first quarter of the year, enduring the same waiting game as ExOne as investors hang their decisions on reported guidance.
At close of play in Manhattan yesterday, voxeljet shares were bumping along the bottom at $13.85. The company's historic low of $13.00 within uncomfortably close proximity.
Materialise & SLM Solutions?
Finally, SLM Solutions announced in April its plans to raise €75 million via an IPO. Chief Executive Officer Dr Markus Rechlin said at the company's User Group Meeting that he believes the 3D printing industry is experiencing a period of inflection and SLM Solutions has a role to play as the global additive manufacturing market shifts.
But what of Materialise? It's been two months since the company announced it has filed for an IPO with the SEC to raise up to $125 million, but where is NASDAQ:MTLS?
In truth, two months is not a very long time in the financial world between the announcement of the filing for an IPO and seeing the stock trade on the markets. When we checked up on how Materialise's road to public was progressing, an amendment to the company's F1 (an SEC F-1 is a filing required for the registration of securities by foreign issuers) was made in May 2014, so the ball is clearly rolling.
Understandably, when TCT Magazine asked the question as to when we can expect MTLS to commence trading, Materialise was tight-lipped, but confirmed it was in the midst of its SEC-regulation Quiet Period.
Looking at cases of recent tech IPOs, up to six months could be considered normal, as the market newcomers choose their window of opportunity carefully. Indeed, King Digital Entertainment, the makers of Candy Crush and also a foreign issuer like Materialise, filed its own IPO on February 18th, launching in late April 2014, while Montage Technology's s-1 is dated from the end of August 2013 and did not appear on the markets until the end of January 2014. All this information is available to the public via the SEC.
We keep our ears to the ground as to MTLS' imminent arrival on the trading scene, not to mention our favourite publicly-listed 3D printing companies' H1 results.