It's the end of another week and the first TCT has been able to enjoy of British Summer Time. But the first week in the run-up to summer has been far from a walk in the park for the 3D printing industry, as disappointing purchasing managers indices (PMIs) from Markit concerning the eurozone and UK indicated the manufacturing industry east of the Atlantic is still in dire straits.
However, in the US - home of our big three market players 3D Systems (NASDAQ:DDD), Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS) and ExOne (NASDAQ:XONE) - manufacturing growth is continuing, which is good news for the world's largest 3D printing market.
Nevertheless, the terrific trio have failed to end the week on a vastly different footing after Easter, but hopefully this could be set to change leading into April, as good news trickles through about new releases and business strategies in the pipeline.
3D Systems is still more than $4 down what its market value was at the beginning of March, but analyst-land has given us reason to hope and reason to believe the decline is at an end and the fear churned up when Chuck Hull sold half his stake has calmed.
Seeking Alpha's Chris Lau stated that now may even be a good time to buy stock in the 3D printing giant, citing strong sales figures for Q4, a diverse customer base, high price/earnings ratio and strong revenue expansion as positives the firm can depend upon. However, the analyst did warn of creeping bearishness, while the company has already priced in its strong demand for 2013, leaving the stock potentially vulnerable to unexpected retreats.
There was some industry news from 3D Systems this week, with the company announcing the immediate availability of its quirky 3DMe program. The company's new product offers customisable, full-colour 3D printed figurines featuring a photo-realistic head atop a costumed body. Among the (rather skimpy) options for females are a superhero, cowgirl, gymnast and bride, while males can also have their face put on a superhero, footballer or surfer. There are other options available and customers can check out 3DMe on Cubify.com to order their own model printed using a 3D Systems' ZPrinter 65.
But even the fun release of the light-hearted 3DMe could not rescue 3D Systems from its slump, as the company opened trading today (April 5th) 1.8 per cent lower at $30.17 per unit.
At the beginning of the week ExOne released some hardware news - the only one of the big three to do so in a little while - announcing that it has been awarded an order for the new M-Flex platform, which is expected to be shipped to L'Universite du Quebec in the third quarter of 2013.
Chief Operating Officer and President David Burns waxed lyrical about what the future holds for ExOne and the M-Flex.
"The early acceptance of this dynamic new machine is extremely encouraging for us and we expect customer interest to translate quickly into orders," he remarked.
Nevertheless, this did not translate into a rally for ExOne, which has slipped by more than $2.50 since the end of March, dipping by 2.5 per cent in the opening trading session today to $30.07 per share.
ExOne is still a baby on the NASDAQ and so fluctuations are not a big worry. Indeed, the company has been enjoying a steady - if spiky - upward gradient since its initial public offering and its trajectory remains positive.
It feels like it has been a long time since we heard anything from Stratasys, with its last product press release going out three weeks ago.
I suppose the biggest businesses in the industry cannot be expected to churn out new products bi-weekly. Even so, Stratasys has not published a press release on its website since March 14th about any of the company's developments. Today's news concerned the company’s Extreme Redesign competition, which made for interesting reading, but still leaves us wondering what is going on when it comes to the company itself.
Stratasys opened lower this morning, but steadied relatively to a dip of 0.4 per cent to $70.44 per unit. This is still a big slide from the end of last week, when the company hovered around $74 dollars for a couple of days.