The 3D-printing revolution has been much discussed in analyst circles for several years now, but it has taken a while for the conversation to finally work its way down from Wall Street to Main Street. This also means that big business is becoming interested in the commercial development of 3D printing.
Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) tried to get into 3D-printing via the partnership route back in 2010, but the market simply wasn’t mature enough at that point, and the deal with Stratasys, Ltd. (NASDAQ:SSYS) was abandoned in 2012. After that, Hewlett-Packard decided to take the internal development route for 3D printing, and shareholders had little insight into the program until the most recent earnings call when the CEO Meg Whitman mentioned Hewlett-Packard will enter the 3D market in 2014 via internal investments.
3D printing is the process of building objects using computer-generated designs that have been cross sectioned into many layers. It can be used as a faster and less costly alternative to machining (cutting, turning, grinding and drilling solid materials) or as a technology to manufacture objects of all sorts, including guns and medical prostheses. 3D printing was developed in the “rapid prototyping” industry, and was pioneered by Chuck Hull of 3D Systems in the mid-to late-1980s.
Hewlett-Packard top pick for Citi Research
Citi Research is extremely bullish on Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ), who also just delivered a very nice earnings report. Their latest report on Hewlett-Packard lists 11 reasons that it is currently their top stock pick.
They point to improved investor sentiment as well as management credibility as PPS drivers for the company, and also believe that stronger cash flows, growing enterprise hardware and storage sales and the continuing stock buy back program will support the price. Any 2014 or 2015 3D printing is just the frosting on the cake, according to the Citi report, as costs of the program are not significant enough to break down on the bottom line. Citi also made adjustments to their estimates based on the latest earnings.
The report notes that although Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) shares have already climbed 79% in 2013, they believe there is a good 30% upside remaining within the next 12 months. Citi rates the stock as a Buy and highlights Hewlett-Packard as their US Focus List selection.