* New models to include hybrids, utility vehicle
* Softens target for earnings increase
* New chief executive has tough act to follow
Ferrari plans to launch 15 new models, including hybrid cars, a utility vehicle and more special editions as part of its new chief executive's efforts to double core earnings by 2022.
The supercar maker shifted to a guidance range for adjusted core earnings of 1.8-2.0 billion euros ($2.1-2.3 billion) by 2022, rather than the 2 billion figure set by late Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne. But his successor sought to reassure investors that the company can maintain recent strong growth.
‘This is an ambitious plan, but a doable one based on a concrete, detailed framework,’ Louis Camilleri said on Tuesday at the company's Maranello headquarters in Italy.
Ferrari shares gained 0.6 percent by 1330 GMT, recovering from earlier losses. The stock slid more than 8 percent on Aug. 1 when Camilleri described Marchionne's targets as ‘aspirational’.
Marchionne's sudden death in July jolted investors who had expected the auto industry grandee to remain at the wheel until 2021, having more than doubled Ferrari's market value since taking it public in 2015.
Camilleri and his team outlined a plan to show how a brand known for its racing pedigree and roaring combustion engines will shift to making a utility vehicle and hybrid cars and boost margins to over 38 percent without sacrificing exclusivity.
The company increased its dividend payout ratio and announced a 1.5 billion-euro share buyback plan.
Its marketing chief also promised a ‘significant increase in average retail price’.
FOLLOWING THE MAP
With margins at 30 percent now, strong pricing power and an enviable customer waiting list, Camilleri inherits a business firing on all cylinders and is not expected to stray far from his predecessor's script.
Marchionne had orchestrated Ferrari's spin-off from parent Fiat Chrysler, positioned it as a luxury brand rather than a carmaker, and managed to do what few thought possible: sail through a self-imposed production cap of 7,000 cars a year without sacrificing pricing power or its exclusive appeal.
Ferrari has clocked up years of record earnings, helped by special editions and a customisation programme.
But it could prove tough to maintain the company's high valuation as emissions rules tighten, capital spending increases and the diverging interests of investors, racing fans, owners and collectors become harder to balance.
A total of 3.6 billion euros will be spent over the period to develop new vehicles and shift towards hybrids, aiming to remain compliant with gradually tougher emissions regulations.
The company said hybrid vehicles would make up around 60 percent of its product mix by the end of the plan, while a smaller six-cylinder engine would be added to its lineup of internal combustion engines.
At the time of the IPO, Marchionne had promised to expand Ferrari into other luxury categories beyond cars, but the plan was put on ice to focus on vehicles first. Camilleri said that expansion was still a ‘work in progress’.
Ferrari declined to give any forecast for shipments other than saying that more than half of those would be sportscars.
This year's deliveries are forecast at over 9,000 vehicles.
At the event, Ferrari unveiled the single-seater Monza SP1 and two-seater Monza SP2, a pair of open-topped, limited edition sportscars, as part of a new segment dubbed ‘Icona’ inspired by past Ferraris but boasting the latest technologies.
Ferrari ruled out a self-driving model, but added that its much-debated utility vehicle would come by the end of the plan.
The vehicle, called ‘Purosangue’ (Thoroughbred), could potentially lead to a substantial growth in sales, analysts have said, while Ferrari expects the car to also help lure the super rich in China.
Camilleri sought to sooth concerns the vehicle could dilute Ferrari's exclusive status.
‘As a die-hard Ferrarista, I have been a little sceptical when the concept was first voiced at the board,’ the known Ferrari collector said.
‘Having now seen the wonderful design concept, the extraordinary features ... I am a hugely enthusiastic supporter.’
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