NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- When it comes to the 3-D printing industry, the market has been engaged in a long tug-of-war over expectations: Is the buzz around this transformational new technology hype or is it reality? Based on the punishment 3-D printing stocks have taken over the past couple of years, the "It's Hype" team is winning the argument.
Advocates have called 3-D printing "the new frontier" in architecture and design. That may be so. But thus far, for investors who've added any of the 3D-printing pioneers to their portfolios, it's been nothing more than a new way of losing money.
Among those pioneers is The ExOne Company (XONE), which is due to report fiscal first-quarter earnings results Thursday after the close. Headquartered in North Huntingdon, Pa., ExOne has been striving to open itself up to new and larger markets by revolutionizing its printer functions. It's also looking to separate itself from the pack of competitors like Stratasys (SSYS) and 3D Systems (DDD).
But with eight straight quarters of revenue and earnings misses, ExOne, which currently operates at a loss, has struggled to separate itself from an industry suffering not just from early expectations that were too high, but also from poor economics. Case in point: The average analyst estimate now calls for a loss of 29 cents per share for the quarter, wider than prior estimates of a 21 cent per share loss three months ago.