3D Systems Corp. (NYSE: DDD) stock slumped as much as 28% Wednesday in reaction to disappointing preliminary 2013 earnings - a move Money Morning readers were prepared for.
3D Systems cut its 2013 profit estimate to $0.83 to $0.87 per share, down from $0.93 to $1.03 per share. The company cited softer demand than expected for its consumer printers - even though demand for professional printers was stronger than expected.
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Get in the Ground Floor of This $1 Trillion Industry
How many times have you studied the stock charts of Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG), Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) or Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) - and wished you could travel back in time to become an early stage investor in just those sorts of king-making companies?
We can't, of course, but I can offer the next best thing: I can tell you about the brand-new industry where the next stock like this will likely come from.
I'm talking about 3D printing.
Folks who've been following my work know that I've been predicting this sector's emergence for some time. Back in March, I told readers of our sister newsletter Money Morning that 3D printing was a $1 trillion industry in the making. In October, in a note to all of you, I followed up with a roundup report on the newest breakthroughs.
In every piece I've written, my key message was always the same: 3D printing will give tech investors the next real shot at windfall profits.
It's already playing out just as I predicted. But even I was surprised at how much money investors made off this segment last year.Read More...
Proof It's Not Too Early to Invest in 3D Printing
You continue to post thoughtful, intelligent comments and questions in response to my Era of Radical Change columns. Thank you.
This tells me we have a very savvy, active, and well-informed set of readers. I'm always eager to see what you bring to the discussion. Without your help and input, this column wouldn't be so successful (or nearly as fun to write).
Of course, the sheer volume of comments I get makes it impossible for me to address them all individually along the way. But I promise to keep doing my best.
With that in mind, let's tackle some of your latest queries...
Starting with a really interesting comment about 3D printing stocks.
Q: My background in materials strength and stress-strain analysis tells me we must expect a development period of some five to ten years until 3D-printing can become a real breakthrough in terms of manufacturing of mechanical parts. I would be cautious about investing heavily now in the hope of short or mid-term profits. ~ Al G.
A: Al, I can't compete with your knowledge of materials, and I won't even try.
But I do want to point out that we may be talking about two different aspects of 3D printing.
Clearly, there is a growing market for small businesses and consumers. These are lower-priced, entry-level printers. The cheapest mass market machine from a major company costs about $1,300. As Al points out, that's not going to give you solid, working metal parts that you might want to use in a car or a plane or for a lathe in a machine shop, for that matter.
However, many big companies are buying much more robust, expensive printers and putting them to good use throughout their supply chains. One publicly traded company for your radar screen is Stratasys Inc. (NasdaqGS:SSYS).
This firm is going after more of the upper end of the market - big outfits that can work this tech into their manufacturing lineups. As regards investing, you should always be careful. But I don't think it's too early to make money from 3D printing stocks.
And here's proof...
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3D Printing: How "Desktop Factories" Will Create the Next $1 Trillion Industry
Don't worry if you've never heard of 3D printing. It's so new it's not on many radar screens yet.
But soon everyone will know about it.
Still in its very early stages, 3D printing is destined to have a huge impact on the entire world economy.
These "desktop factories" will one day become a $1 trillion industry-completely changing the traditional factory model forever.
It's what's known as a "disruptive technology."
By the end of this decade, everyone from consumers to big businesses to solo inventors will be able to make their own unique products in just a couple of hours.
Need a special tool?... Or a new spare part?
Soon you will be able to fire up the 3D printer and make one from composite materials.
Indeed, I recently watched a YouTube video of Z Corp. making an adjustable wrench from high-tech compounds. It was a copy made from metal.
Though it weighed less than the original, the "printed" wrench worked just as well and looked every bit as strong.
And let's not gloss over the medical products that can be created by these revolutionary printers. An 83-year-old woman in Europe recently received a new jaw doctors printed with titanium powder.
Medical team members said they made the implant in just a few hours compared with the several days usually required with existing methods.
That's why I say this technology symbolizes the Era of Radical Change. Now, anyone who knows computer basics can make or invent products on the fly.
3D Printing: A New Wave of Innovation
Technically, you don't really "print" a new product, though the process is similar. Rather than putting ink on paper, the system creates the product by adding thin layers of special polymers and some metals.
This is literally "cutting edge" high tech that is destined to become big business.
I believe it is the 21st century equivalent of the laser printer and the dawn of desktop publishing in the 1980s that changed the entire print industry.
But don't take my word for it...
Let's hear from Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ), the high-tech giant that knows both types of printers extremely well.
The Silicon Valley leader now offers a high-end unit made for professional use. Its DesignJet Color 3D printer reportedly sells for $20,000.
But consider this: 3D printing will soon come to the masses at prices they can afford.
Today, MakerBot sells its Replicator for $1,749. Its users can download free modeling software such as TinkerCAD or Sketchup from Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) to print their own products.
Small-cap leader 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD) also recently launched the Cube, a competing device that lists for $1,299. A related website, Cubify.com, combines the simplicity of a coloring book with robust digital resources.
The firm's CEO, Abraham N. Reichental, told BBC news that 3D Systems already has 1,000 workers -- and nearly as many patents.
Now just think of what will happen when the price of these machines drops to $500....
We're talking mass customization of a wide range of goods, from forks to jewelry to high-tech ski helmets.
When this happens, 3D printing will undoubtedly unleash a whole new wave of innovation.
And for a very simple reason...
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