Protolabs reported fourth-quarter and annual results that showed revenue and earnings down in both periods and offered cautious guidance for the first quarter of 2021 that reflects company officials' uncertainty over the pace of economic recovery.

The Maple Plain-based contract manufacturer was expecting a dip in revenue after facing a challenging year in which industrial production slowed globally.

"Protolabs responded very well in the face of unforeseen challenges driven by the emergence of the global pandemic and the ensuing substantial decline in global economic activity during 2020," said Chief Executive Vicki Holt in the company's earnings release.

Fourth-quarter revenue was $105.2 million, down 2.1%, and net income was $9.6 million, or 36 cents per diluted share. In the same period last year, earnings were $15.2 million, or 57 cents per share.

Revenue for the year was $434.4 million, down 5.3% from the previous year. Net income for the year was $50.9 million, or $1.89 per diluted share, down from $63.6 million, or $2.35 per share.

The company offered guidance for the first quarter of 2021 saying it expects revenue to be in the range of $108 million to $118 million. That would be a sequential increase over fourth-quarter revenue.

Protolabs Chief Financial Officer John Wray told analysts on the earnings call that the revenue guidance reflects uncertainty in the economy.

"Our Europe business, in particular, will likely be impacted in the first quarter by Brexit and new lockdown measures creating demand challenges as the recovery slows," Wray said.

Shares of Protolabs closed Friday at $197.05, down 2%. Shares over the past 52 weeks have traded between $63.19 and $286.57 per share.

Patrick Kennedy • 612-673-7926