Stratasys Ltd. executives, facing the biggest drop in sales of 3-D printers since the 2009 recession, took a giant write-down Wednesday and said they would cut jobs and other expenses in coming weeks.

The one-time charge to reduce the goodwill value of past acquisitions led to a nearly $1 billion loss on paper in the Eden Prairie company’s third-quarter results. Its operations produced a marginal profit amid an 18 percent plunge in sales.

The performance is the latest sign of the reversal of fortune for Stratasys and the broader industry of 3-D printers, devices that can take orders from computer design software to form plastic objects of any shape. Just two years ago, sales and profits were growing sharply and some analysts speculated 3-D printers might even become a high-tech accessory for consumers.

Now, Stratasys is coping with manufacturers around the world cutting purchases of capital equipment and the cost of production capacity it built up in anticipation of greater demand. As well, more companies, including firms like Hewlett-Packard Co. and Autodesk, have started making 3-D printers.

“Although we believe that overall penetration in the prototyping market remains low, the segment has matured to an extent that our customers now have a wide selection of technology offerings to evaluate, resulting in lengthened sales cycles,” David Reis, Stratasys chief executive, told analysts and investors in a conference call.

The company did not set out a specific cost-cutting target. Reis said Stratasys would cut jobs, consolidate facilities and outsource the production of some of its older products, particularly its lower-priced, consumer-targeted 3-D printers.

Stratasys shares closed up 5 percent Wednesday, at $28.67, about at the midpoint of a range in which they have been trading for about three months. The company’s shares are about 75 percent lower than they were a year ago.

The company reported a net loss of $938 million, or $18.06 a share, for the three months ended Sept. 30. That includes a noncash impairment expense of $910 million, chiefly covering the company’s assessment that its goodwill was 76 percent less valuable than the $1.3 billion on its balance sheet at the end of 2014.

Executives said the charge may be adjusted further before the end of the year. Excluding the charge, the company earned $700,000, or 1 cent a share, in line with a revised guidance the firm issued last month. At that time, executives projected an impairment charge in a range of $140 million to $180 million.

Revenue fell 18 percent to $167.6 million, shaped by a 26 percent drop in product sales that offset a 12 percent gain in revenue from services. Analysts were expecting revenue of about $173 million. Reis said product sales were falling faster than at any time since first half of 2009.

Pressed by analysts about when Stratasys expects sales to start growing again, Reis said he wasn’t sure. “Visibility is low,” he said. “As we are getting closer to next year, I hope we are able to see a better indication.”

Patrick Newton, analyst at Stifel, wrote in a note after the announcement, “While we believe Stratasys still has significant company-specific growth opportunities … we have little comfort in industry fundamentals in the near-term.”

Reis said a company survey found plenty of interest among manufacturers in using 3-D printers to prototype products. “This survey, although done internally and not to huge scale, gave us reasonable indication that the market has very low penetration,” he said. “It still means we have a long way to go.”

Even so, Reis said Stratasys can’t sit still and wait for demand to pick up. “We are trying to do a lot of things in this environment, which is tough, to bring us to a better situation,” he said.

 

Staff writer Dee DePass contributed to this report.