The world of 3D printing is not as small nor as new as many investors might think. That being said, the 3D printing market is very fragmented and many of the applications and machines have never even been known by most consumers. So what do you make of Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) getting excited about entering the 3D printing market and how this could hurt or help existing 3D printing players?
There is a huge risk to dominant 3D printing stocks such as 3D Systems Corp. (DDD) and Stratasys Ltd. (SSYS), but H-P may not be as large of a foe as you might expect. News from The Register showed that H-P's Meg Whitman told the Canalys Channels Forum in Bangkok that H-P plans to enter 3D printer market in mid-2014. The message is that faster and cheaper kits are on the way for service providers.
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We also saw comments from the AdvisorShares Ranger Equity Bear ETF (HDGE) managers sent to us that 3D Systems and Stratasys have been both targeting 3D printing service bureaus and expanding their own services offerings. In 3D Systems' case, this expansion has been fueled by a healthy dose of M&A. Please note that the ETF is shorting 3D Systems and this is an ETF that is styled as a short-only hedge fund with daily liquidity.
Meg Whitman suggested that H-P wants to offer hardware to make for faster printing times and one which is competitively priced. We would also point out that it seems as though 3D printing service providers are viewed as potential clients. It is also interesting and worth noting that Meg Whitman does not expect 3D printing will quickly become a big business.
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This would be just one more line of business for Hewlett-Packard, but it is the main business of 3D Systems Corp. (DDD) and Stratasys Ltd. (SSYS). 3D Systems Corp. (DDD) is down only 1.5% at $56.41 against a 52-week range of $23.04 to $58.46. Stratasys Ltd. (SSYS) is down 2.6% at $106.53 against a 52-week range of $57.77 to $113.49. 3D Systems is worth some $5.7 billion in market cap versus $4.1 billion for Stratasys.
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The market seems doubtful that Hewlett-Packard is going to get a huge boost from entering this market. Its stock is down 1.2% at $23.76 against a 52-week trading range of $11.35 to $27.78. H-P is worth some $45 billion.
The reality is that H-P has to be looking for any new line of business that complements its former dominant business lines. H-P is large enough and has enough resources that it could dominate a new field if it chose to, but it could also decide to acquire its way into a field as it has done in the past with software and services. Whether or not Wall Street would endorse that action is another matter entirely.
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