Ferrari nudges up earnings view, Marchionne becomes CEO

MILAN (Reuters) - Italian luxury carmaker Ferrari RACE.MI on Monday nudged up its full-year earnings forecast after a stronger-than expected first quarter, helped by higher shipments and better margins.

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Ferrari RACE.N, spun off from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles FCHA.MI at the start of the year, also said Chairman Sergio Marchionne would take over as chief executive as well, following Amedeo Felisa's decision to retire.

The move, effectively immediately, had been expected, with sources close to the matter saying it would make little difference as Marchionne had essentially been in charge since becoming chairman.

Combining the chairman and CEO jobs is not a first for Ferrari, as Luca Cordero di Montezemolo held both posts for several years.

Ferrari said it expected to report 2016 adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of at least 800 million euros ($919 million) on shipments of more than 7,900 vehicles.

It had previously guided for adjusted EBITDA of more than 770 million euros this year.

The carmaker also said adjusted core earnings for January-March rose 11 percent to 178 million euros, beating analysts’ average forecast of around 164 million euros in a Thomson Reuters poll. Shipments during the quarter were up 15 percent to 1,882 vehicles, helped by several new models.

Marchionne, who is also CEO at Fiat Chrysler, has sought to position Ferrari as a luxury goods business in a bid to replicate the high-flying stock market valuations of companies such as Hermes HRMS.PA and Prada 1913.HK.

The shares have been struggling since their Oct. 21 market debut, hit by stock market volatility and concerns over luxury demand as well as analysts questioning whether the small-volume, capital-intensive carmaker would be able to sustain a high valuation.

At 1455 GMT, the stock was up 0.3 percent at 39.62 euros.

($1 = 0.8709 euros)

Reporting by Agnieszka Flak, Additional reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Mark Potter