In 2017 Proto Labs (NYSE:PRLB) has been one of the top performing 3D printing investments.
The global engineering and 3D printing service bureau has now reported record results and it’s share price is higher than early 2014, when market exuberance drove 3D printing equities to record levels
Proto Labs’ Q3 financial returns show a quarterly total revenue increase of 12.7%, reaching $88.1M. The latest report follows earlier strong growth for Q2 of this year.
Proto Labs reports revenue from 4 divisions, categorized as Injection Molding, CNC Milling, 3D Printing and Other. At $11.1M 3D Printing comprises 12.6% of total revenue. While not the largest of the divisions the figure is growing rapidly, showing 12.7% growth on the comparative figure for 2016.
A record high income
The latest financial returns see Proto Labs reaching the upper end of previously issued revenue guidance. On a call with investors and analysts Proto Labs President and CEO, Vicki Holt described the latest results as “record performance…by many different metrics.”
For the quarter, net income was $13.2M a 10.3% increase on the comparative figure.
Holt also gave an update on the use of HP’s Multi Jet Fusion at Proto Labs. “We’ve got three here, and it’s going well and we’re worked out. We need to be able to produce high quality parts and so we feel good about that. We are going to be launching the multi-jet fusion in Europe in the first quarter,” said the CEO.
International growth mixed, but US still strongest market
Geographic analysis of revenue growth shows an increase of 13.3% to $67.5M for the US market. In the European market, a 15.9% increase took revenue to $18.1M.
In Japan a decrease of 8.6% saw revenue fall to $2.5 million. Holt acknowledged that Proto Labs revenue base in Japan was “relatively small” and “variable” but nonetheless expressed disappointment and vowed to export some of the “disciplined processes” that had worked well in the U.S. to Japan. This will include a review of costs and asset structure. In Europe, expanding and improving 3D printing services was said to be a “focus”.
To Q4 and beyond
In response to a question on the call with investors and analysts Holt confirmed that Proto Labs would be launching a glass-filled nylon material for SLS 3D printing in the first quarter of 2018.
Describing how Proto Labs intends to continue leading in the increasingly competitive manufacturing bureau sector Holt said, “we’ve got to differentiate ourselves versus a cadre of suppliers who make what I call basic parts within the 3D printing. And we’ve got to make sure that we can differentiate ourselves with quality materials and speed.”
CFO John Way announced that he expected Q4 revenue to be in the range of $85 to $90 million.
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Featured image shows an example of the 3D printing services available at Proto Labs. Photo by Michael Petch.