In an evolving, dynamic world shifting towards powerful digital tools and innovative ecosystems, 3D printing companies are regaining momentum and performing better financially. That seems to be the case for 3D printing software and service provider Materialise (NASDAQ: MTLS). The Belgium-based business reported better-than-expected revenue and net profit for its third quarter of the year, driven by solid operational performances and strong double-digit growth from all three segments: software, medical, and manufacturing. Furthermore, it revealed several aspects of an ongoing project with Lift Aircraft, a Texas-based vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft manufacturer.
Revenue for the three months ending September 30, 2021, was €52.2 million ($61 million), up 28% year-over-year from €40.8 million ($47.7 million) in the third quarter of last year. Materialise also reported a consolidated net profit of €8.7 million ($10 million), or 15 Euro cents per share—a whopping change against the previous year’s third-quarter loss of €282 ($330), or 1 Euro cent per share.
With revenue from its manufacturing segment hiking 61.2% in just a year to €22.8 million ($26.6 million), Materialise’s Executive Chairman Peter Leys expects consolidated revenues for the entire year to be near the higher end of his €197 million to €200 million range estimate from previous months. Additionally, the company saw increases of 10.4% and 10.2% year-on-year from the software and medical segments, respectively.
Particularly in the medical sector, Materialise recorded a 15% increase in medical software sales, which accounted for 31% of the entire segment’s revenue. During the earnings call, Leys said this “is not pent-up demand” but a continued solid growth that this medical subsegment has been showing over the last four to eight quarters.
After such a strong earnings season, Materialise shares opened up around 6% on October 28, following the release of the quarter’s earnings report. By 10:30 AM, the stock had peaked at $25.62 before easing back a bit and closing at $25.14. According to expert analysts at Simply Wall Street, Materialise stock underperformed in the US market, which returned 33.4% over the past year. However, with profits and earnings gaining momentum, experts forecast earnings will grow 52.45% per year. As investors continue to bet on the 3D printing industry, we can expect the sector to pick up business, especially now that the US and European economies are reopening.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Materialise continued to invest in its workforce, existing software platforms, such as Magics and Mimics, 3D printing manufacturing activities, and growth initiatives, which is already paying off in the short term, Leys explained during the company’s earnings call. Overall, the strong revenue growth and improved gross margin were triggered by increased in-sourcing and continuous productivity improvements, and disciplined spending, in particular with respect to overhead.
As for the future, CEO Fried Vancraen suggested that “in coming years, more and more meaningful applications we invest in today are likely to scale in the markets. We feel confident that this will help ensure our long-term success.”
A great example of this forward motion is a project with Lift Aircraft, the startup behind Hexa, an eVTOL single-passenger wingless multicopter for short-distance travel. According to the management team, Materialise is designing and producing 89 different 3D printed end parts for the aircraft, such as the Y brackets, a structural component made with titanium.
Now in serial production, the topology-optimized part was flying just six weeks after Lift Aircraft made the request to Materialise. Moreover, the part weighs 150 grams, a major weight reduction compared to traditionally manufactured Y brackets that weigh 250 grams. In a plane estimated at under 115 kilograms, this 40% weight reduction is critical. The optimization also reduced costs by decreasing the build time and eliminating support structures, thus enabling Lift Aircraft to reach its target pricing.
This story is another proof point that AM can make entirely “new types of value creation” and possible business concepts, highlighted Vancraen during the call. Even though these types of applications take time to develop, he considers them truly meaningful, especially if they will be sustainable in the future.
Finally, Leys said the company intends to gradually increase its operational expenses to boost growth initiatives, but expects these accelerated efforts to impact the 2022 results much more than this year. Therefore, for 2021, management is increasing its adjusted EBITDA guidance by €3 million ($3.5 million) to up to €28 million ($32.7 million).
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