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Stratasys Earnings Preview: What to Watch on May 2

Beth McKenna, The Motley Fool

Stratasys Ltd. (NASDAQ: SSYS) is slated to report its first-quarter 2018 earnings before the market opens on Wednesday, May 2.

As with last quarter, main rival 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD) is scheduled to report on the same day, though before the market opens.

Shares of Stratasys are up 3.5% so far in 2018 through April 24. For context, the S&P 500 is down 1% in 2018, while 3D Systems stock has gained nearly 30% this year.

A 3D printer printing a white plastic object.

Image source: Getty Images.

Key numbers

Here are the year-ago quarter's results and Wall Street analysts' estimates to use as benchmarks.

Metric

Q1 2017 Result

Wall Street Q1 2018 Consensus

Wall Street Projected Year-Over-Year Change

Revenue

$163.2 million

$167.5 million

2.6%

Adjusted earnings per share (EPS)

$0.05

$0.08

60%

Data sources: Stratasys and Yahoo! Finance.

Unlike 3D Systems, Stratasys did a solid job at meeting or beating Wall Street's earnings estimates last year. In the second and third quarters it solidly beat the consensus, while in the first and fourth quarters, it met expectations.

Along with the headline numbers, here's what to focus on in Stratasys' report.

3D printer sales

Last quarter, 3D printer revenue increased 1% year over year. While this is anemic growth, it was still an improvement, as this metric has steadily declined since 2015. That said, some revenue from system sales got pushed back from the third quarter -- when this metric declined 6% -- to the fourth quarter, so the slide in this metric didn't appear to be over as of last quarter.

A second consecutive quarter of 3D printer revenue growth that is flat (or positive) year over year would be encouraging, as it would suggest that we've finally seen the bottom for this metric. Stratasys CEO Ilan Levin said on last quarter's earnings call that the company anticipates that system revenue will "continue to grow."

3D printer sales are extremely important because they drive sales of high-margin print materials, as well as service contracts, in the company's razor-and-blade-like business model.

H2000 sales

In the fourth quarter, Stratasys sold one H2000 Large Part FDM 3D Production System to a new customer, though it didn't name the customer. (The demonstrator for this newly commercialized system was called Infinite Build.) This sale follows installations on the sites of Stratasys' development partners for this system, Boeing and Ford. 

The H2000 is a higher-end system, so sales will be particularly important. The system is designed to make large engineering-grade plastic parts, including aircraft interior panels, hybrid structures, and composite tooling.

Status of metal 3D printing platform

Investors can likely expect management to provide an update on its new metal 3D printing technology, perhaps including a rough timeline for commercialization. As background, in late February when it released its fourth-quarter earnings, Stratasys announced that it has developed a metal 3D printing process designed for short-run manufacturing applications. This is a major development because metal 3D printing is the fastest-growing space within the 3D printing realm, and Stratasys doesn't currently make 3D printers that have metals capabilities. 3D Systems, however, does sell metal 3D printers. Both companies offer 3D printing in metals in their service operations. 

Last quarter, Stratasys management said the company planned to release more details about its metal 3D printing tech at the RAPID + TCT 3D Printing Conference that runs April 23-26 in Fort Worth. As of this writing, those details haven't yet been released. 

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Beth McKenna has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends 3D Systems, Ford, and Stratasys. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.