Will ExOne Earnings Pound Another Nail Into 3D Printing Coffin?

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The ExOne Co. (NASDAQ: XONE) reported first-quarter 2014 results before markets opened Thursday. The 3D printing company posted a diluted earnings per share (EPS) loss of $0.38 on revenues of $7.3 million. In the same period a year ago, ExOne reported an EPS loss of $0.20 on revenues of $7.9 million. First-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for an EPS loss of $0.09 and $11.84 million in revenue.

For a so-called growth company, ExOne could hardly have done worse. The company blames a long sales cycle and the high cost of its products, and it says that quarter-to-quarter fluctuations in revenue are not “necessarily indicative of larger trends.” The company still expects to boost its revenues by 40% to 50% for the full fiscal year.

The company’s COO said:

Significant development costs associated with our ExCast strategy negatively impacted our gross margin for the quarter. Additionally, lower machine volume, combined with a higher cost base, unfavorably impacted absorption.

For the two-week period ending April 30, nearly 34% of ExOne’s stock was held by short sellers. And it is not the only 3D printing company that is struggling. We noted last week that an ETF short-selling fund manager is shorting stock in 3D Systems Corp. (NYSE: DDD).

The whole sector is suffering. Stratasys Ltd. (NASDAQ: SSYS) reported earnings last week that were better than expected and the stock price still dropped. Since January, Stratasys shares have dropped about 35%, 3D Systems shares are down nearly 50% and ExOne’s shares are down more than 56%. This almost qualifies as a bloodbath, especially because all three posted share prices at or near their 52-week highs in early January.

ExOne shares were down about 15% just before noon Thursday, at $26.05 in a 52-week range of $24.34 to $78.80. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $51.00 before the results were announced.

READ MORE: 3D Printing Companies Have Less to Fear From HP