These five companies are changing the world — and their shares have made investors rich


With political strife and worries about global warming, economic growth and debt, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the human race isn’t doomed just yet.

We know this because of the enormous amount of technical innovation happening everywhere — making life easier and more fun. This reminds us the world is still full of brain power, raw entrepreneurial spirit and, what the heck, I’ll say it, “positive vibes.”

“We are seeing more innovation now than we have ever seen,” says Catherine Wood, the CEO and chief investment officer of ARK Invest. ARK runs several exchange traded funds (ETFs) that invest in disruptive innovation. There can be good money in this.

One of them:

3D printers aren’t as ubiquitous as some predicted. But deep inside companies, 3D printers are already widely used to make specialized parts and design prototypes in sectors ranging from auto makers and aerospace, to defense and footwear.

Despite this, ARK Invest’s 3D Printing ETF has been a bad performer. ARK still loves the space, though. “Our confidence in 3D printing has not diminished,” says CIO Wood. She thinks uptake will be particularly strong in aerospace and medical devices. “We think this is a coiled spring.”

One favorite play here is Stratasys SSYS, +0.13% Its 3D printers, materials and software are used by Team Penske and Andretti Autosport in auto racing, and the British car maker McLaren Automotive. It also has a strong foothold in aerospace, health care and consumer products. Another favorite is Materialise MTLS, -0.24% which provides 3D printing software and services, with strengths in health care where it prints medical devices, implants and patient-specific surgical guides.

Both companies are overweight positions in the 3D Printing ETF. They’re also in the ARK Innovation and ARK Industrial Innovation ETFs.

The hidden risk: 3D printing remains a niche market without much growth.

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