Wednesday June 27, 2012
by Mark Skousen, editor Hedge Fund Trader Alert
There are, undoubtedly, many companies whose business prospects will be diminished by slower growth here and abroad. But some companies are such great innovators -- and their products are so much in demand -- that their business prospects remain robust.
One of them is 3D Systems Corp. (DDD), which manufactures and sells 3D printers and print materials for both consumers and corporations.
But make no mistake, this is not just paper and ink printing. 3D printers are machines that make a variety of objects using a laser or extruder that moves along an X, Y and Z axis to build objects in three dimensions, layer by layer, sometimes only microns thick at a time. In essence, it’s not printing but manufacturing.
The technology is perfect for modeling and prototyping, since the time between design and manufacture can be as little as 12 hours. The military uses 3D printers to resupply parts for fighter jets aboard carriers and in the combat theater.
NASA is buying them for space missions. 3D printing even can be used to make inexpensive but high quality artificial limb replacements.
Even Apple is coming on board -- it sells 3-D printed iPhone covers! Also a number of apps that assist in the creation and personalization of the products are already available.
The 3-D printing industry has grown almost 9% a year over the last ten years and is expected to reach $3.1 billion worldwide by 2016 and $5.2 billion by 2020.
3D printing eliminates a lot of waste. Leftover materials can be immediately used on another project, alleviating the need for injection molding, setup costs, cutting, sanding, drilling and having scraps of material left over, as is the case with traditional manufacturing methods.
But the most impressive part is unlimited customization without having to worry about economies of scale. If you don’t like a feature of the part or object you are creating, you simply tweak the CAD drawing to include your improvement and “print” another.
3D’s printers reduce the time and cost of designing new products or creating custom replacement parts. And while the industry is still in its infancy, sales already are growing sharply.
In the most recent quarter, revenue at DDD soared 63% to more than $260 million. Operating margins are 17%. And management is earning a 15% return on equity. 3D Systems is likely to earn more than a dollar a share this year and more than $1.50 a share in 2013.
Learn more about this financial newsletter at Mark Skousen's Hedge Fund Trader Alert.