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One of the reasons our members love us is that we tell the story through the numbers. Every income statement says something; every balance sheet has a history; and every cash flow statement reveals a firm's true intrinsic value. The numbers talk--and we think every investor should listen to them. Let's see what they say about 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD).

For those that know us, we think a comprehensive analysis of a firm's discounted cash-flow valuation and relative valuation versus industry peers is the best way to identify the most attractive stocks at the best time to consider buying. This process culminates in what we call our Valuentum Buying Index, which ranks stocks on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best. It's a robust process, but also very simple one to interpret.

For example, if a company is undervalued both on a discounted cash-flow basis and on a relative valuation basis and is showing improvement in technical and momentum indicators, it scores high on our scale. The higher the better. 3D Systems posts a VBI score of 6 on our scale--this reflects our 'fairly valued' DCF assessment of the firm, its unattractive relative valuation versus peers, and bullish technicals. In the spirit of transparency, we show how our scoring system works through the course of the inevitable equity price cycle (relative to a firm's fair value range):

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Investment Considerations

Investment Highlights

• 3D Systems earns a ValueCreation™ rating of EXCELLENT, the highest possible mark on our scale. The firm has been generating economic value for shareholders for the past few years, a track record we view very positively. Return on invested capital (excluding goodwill) has averaged 45.6% during the past three years.

• 3D Systems is a leading provider of 3D content-to print solutions including 3D printers, print materials and on-demand custom parts services for professionals and consumers alike.

• 3D Systems has a good combination of strong free cash flow generation and manageable financial leverage. We expect the firm's free cash flow margin to average about 10.9% in coming years. Total debt-to-EBITDA was 1.1 last year, while debt-to-book capitalization stood at 15.5%.

• What once seemed like an unattainable pipe dream is now a very powerful means of production. 3D Systems is seeing strong demand from manufacturing customers, and the firm's consumer products have recently hit Staples' shelves with a positive reception from consumers.

• The firm experienced a revenue CAGR of about 30.3% during the past 3 years. We expect its revenue growth to be better than its peer median during the next five years.

Business Quality

Economic Profit Analysis

The best measure of a firm's ability to create value for shareholders is expressed by comparing its return on invested capital (ROIC) with its weighted average cost of capital (WACC). The gap or difference between ROIC and WACC is called the firm's economic profit spread. 3D Systems' 3-year historical return on invested capital (without goodwill) is 45.6%, which is above the estimate of its cost of capital of 11.6%. As such, we assign the firm a ValueCreation™ rating of EXCELLENT. In the chart below, we show the probable path of ROIC in the years ahead based on the estimated volatility of key drivers behind the measure. The solid grey line reflects the most likely outcome, in our opinion, and represents the scenario that results in our fair value estimate.

Cash Flow Analysis

Firms that generate a free cash flow margin (free cash flow divided by total revenue) above 5% are usually considered cash cows. 3D Systems' free cash flow margin has averaged about 14.5% during the past 3 years. As such, we think the firm's cash flow generation is relatively STRONG. The free cash flow measure shown above is derived by taking cash flow from operations less capital expenditures and differs from enterprise free cash flow (FCFF), which we use in deriving our fair value estimate for the company. For more information on the differences between these two measures, please visit our website. At 3D Systems, cash flow from operations increased about 67% from levels registered two years ago, while capital expenditures expanded about 150% over the same time period.

Valuation Analysis

Our discounted cash flow model indicates that 3D Systems' shares are worth $49 each, which represents a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of about 68.6 times last year's earnings and an implied EV/EBITDA multiple of about 31.5 times last year's EBITDA. This doesn't look like a cheap valuation, but it is supported by our future operating assumptions.

Our model reflects a compound annual revenue growth rate of 24.2% during the next five years, a pace that is lower than the firm's 3-year historical compound annual growth rate of 30.3%. Our model reflects a 5-year projected average operating margin of 17.6%, which is above 3D Systems' trailing 3-year average. Beyond year 5, we assume free cash flow will grow at an annual rate of 9.2% for the next 15 years and 3% in perpetuity. For 3D Systems, we use a 11.6% weighted average cost of capital to discount future free cash flows.

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Margin of Safety Analysis

Our discounted cash flow process values each firm on the basis of the present value of all future free cash flows. Although we estimate the firm's fair value at about $49 per share, every company has a range of probable fair values that's created by the uncertainty of key valuation drivers (like future revenue or earnings, for example). After all, if the future was known with certainty, we wouldn't see much volatility in the markets as stocks would trade precisely at their known fair values. Our ValueRisk™ rating sets the margin of safety or the fair value range we assign to each stock. In the graph below, we show this probable range of fair values for 3D Systems. We think the firm is attractive below $32 per share (the green line), but quite expensive above $66 per share (the red line). The prices that fall along the yellow line, which includes our fair value estimate, represent a reasonable valuation for the firm, in our opinion.

Future Path of Fair Value

We estimate 3D Systems' fair value at this point in time to be about $49 per share. As time passes, however, companies generate cash flow and pay out cash to shareholders in the form of dividends. The chart below compares the firm's current share price with the path of 3D Systems' expected equity value per share over the next three years, assuming our long-term projections prove accurate. The range between the resulting downside fair value and upside fair value in Year 3 represents our best estimate of the value of the firm's shares three years hence. This range of potential outcomes is also subject to change over time, should our views on the firm's future cash flow potential change. The expected fair value of $68 per share in Year 3 represents our existing fair value per share of $49 increased at an annual rate of the firm's cost of equity less its dividend yield. The upside and downside ranges are derived in the same way, but from the upper and lower bounds of our fair value estimate range.

Pro Forma Financial Statements

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Source: The Numbers Talk: What Do They Say About 3D Systems?