Proto Labs Inc. shares fell 22 percent Thursday after the fast-growing company’s latest results missed lofty expectations.
The Maple Plain-based company, a provider of rapid prototyping and other services for manufacturers, said its per-share profit jumped 34 percent and revenue 20 percent in the last three months of 2018. But that was slower than growth in both measures for the full year.
“Proto Labs had another quarter of strong revenue growth, however, fourth quarter financial results were below our expectations,” Vicki Holt, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement.
The company’s shares fell to $101.58 a share on the Nasdaq exchange. They’re now down 38 percent from the record high of $165 reached in September.
Holt said Proto Labs had a strong start to the quarter but ended with weak sales in December. She said a company it bought in November 2017, a New Hampshire-based custom parts supplier called Rapid Manufacturing Group, did not meet sales and profit targets.
Holt also told analysts that the company’s move of 295 computer numerical controlled (CNC) milling machines to a new location in Minnesota cost more and took more time than expected.
“Our challenges in the fourth quarter were primarily related to our recent acquisition of Rapid and inefficiency as a result of the CNC move,” she said. “These investments were necessary to support our long-term growth and we are confident that the investments will yield positive long-term returns.”
For the quarter, Proto Labs earned $19.3 million, or 71 cents a share, compared to $14.3 million, or 53 cents a share, a year ago. Adjusted for currency fluctuations, the company earned 74 cents a share. Analysts who cover the company expected adjusted earnings of 80 cents a share.
That miss ended the streak in which Proto Labs had beat analysts’ EPS estimates in seven consecutive quarters. Just three months ago, its shares jumped 8.3 percent on the day it reported third-quarter per-share profit that was 12 cents higher than analysts expected.
Fourth-quarter revenue was $112.8 million, up 19.7 percent from a year ago.
For the year, Proto Labs said its profit rose 48 percent to $76.6 million and revenue climbed 29 percent to $445.6 million.