In a small but important step for 3D printing stocks, Home Depot (HD) is selling 3D printers in its stores — but that still doesn’t make 3D printing stocks an automatic “buy.”
Home Depot, the nation’s largest home improvement retailer, is selling 3D printers from MakerBot, which is owned by Stratasys (SSYS). SSYS is one of the biggest 3D printing stocks by market cap — along with 3D Systems (DDD) and ExOne (XONE) — and getting its products onto the store shelves at Home Depot could be a historic step.
After all, as exciting as 3D printing technology might be (not to mention the breathless hype over 3D printing stocks), it’s still very much a niche product. When it comes to the average consumer, 3D printers make no impression at all.
3D printing stocks ultimately are going to be driven by mass adoption by various industries, but getting smaller customers into the mix sure wouldn’t hurt. Putting the technology in front of professional contractors and do-it-yourselfers is a great way to market the technology to that segment.
But before anyone gets too excited, this is a small program, meaning the potential upside for Stratasys’ revenue — to say nothing of SSYS stock — is limited. Home Depot is putting 3D printers in only 12 stores as part of a pilot project.
It’s a test run.
That said, it is a step into the mainstream for Stratasys and, indeed, all 3D printing companies. As MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis told Bloomberg BusinessWeek:
“Mom, dad, contractors, interior designers — we’re looking forward to blowing their minds and making them MakerBot lovers.”
3D Printing Stocks: The Wrong Bets at the Wrong Time
Home Depot is a great showcase for 3D printing technology, but it’s immaterial as far as the fundamentals are concerned for the industry’s shares. As we’ve written before, 3D printing stocks are a no-go area at current prices, because 3D printing stocks have valuations that are out of whack with their growth prospects.
SSYS, XONE and DDD stock are all speculative bets at best. Even after stumbling in 2014, 3D printing stocks have valuations stretched to the point where only beat-and-raise quarters could sustain the meteoric upside.
When 3D printing companies failed to deliver nothing but better-than-expected news, the market punished them. With 3D Systems, ExOne and Stratasys trading at anywhere from 35 to 300 times forward earnings, that’s going to continue to be the case — especially in a market that has turned on momentum stocks.
We warned investors not to buy the suckers rally in 3D printing stocks in late June, and the performance of SSYS, DDD and XONE stock since then has warranted that call.
As we said last month, 3D printing stocks are crazy expensive in a market that’s rewarding utilities and other late-cycle names — not momentum plays.
That makes 3D printing stocks the wrong bets at the wrong time.
As of this writing, Dan Burrows did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.