MILAN (Reuters) - Ferrari's RACE.MI new boss sought to reassure investors that he would execute midterm targets set by his predecessor, Sergio Marchionne, but the stock fell more than 8 percent on Wednesday when he described the goals to 2022 as "aspirational".
Louis Camilleri was appointed chief executive of the Italian supercar maker on July 21, succeeding Marchionne who fell seriously ill and later died after suffering complications following surgery.
The sudden change jolted investors who had expected Marchionne, who nearly tripled Ferrari’s value since taking it public in 2015, to stay on as CEO and chairman until 2021.
It also left Camilleri, 63, to finish scripting a midterm strategy that will be presented in September and is meant to show how the company plans to achieve financial targets unveiled earlier this year, notably a goal to double core earnings to 2 billion euros ($2.33 billion) by 2022.
In a post-results conference call with analysts, Camilleri said he and Marchionne, with whom he had interacted for years, shared the same ambitions for the company.
The tobacco veteran, chairman and former CEO of Philip Morris International (PMI), has served on the Ferrari board since 2015, while Marchionne in turn sat on the board of PMI.
Asked about how he planned to deliver on the targets set by his predecessor, Camilleri said he would provide details during capital market days to be held on Sept. 17-18 at the company’s headquarters in Maranello, Italy
“They are aspirational targets. At the capital markets day we will tell you how we plan to get there,” he said.
“We will also have to disclose potential risks to that, but also significant opportunities that we see going forward.”
Ferrari’s Milan-listed shares fell after the comments and closed down 8.4 percent.
TOUGH ACT TO FOLLOW
At Ferrari, Camilleri has a tough act to follow.
Marchionne orchestrated Ferrari's spin-off from parent Fiat Chrysler FCHA.MI, positioned it as a luxury icon rather than a car manufacturer and managed to do what few thought possible: sail through a self-imposed cap of 7,000 vehicles per year without sacrificing pricing power and exclusive appeal.
When its share price hit a record high of 129.90 euros in June, the company that sold just under 8,400 vehicles last year was worth around 24 billion euros, almost as much as Fiat Chrysler, which shipped 4.7 million cars.
With profit margins of over 30 percent and strong pricing power, Camilleri inherits a business that is firing on all cylinders. Ferrari has clocked up several years of record earnings, helped by a number of special edition models.
But maintaining the high valuation will not be easy as emissions rules tighten, capital spending increases and the diverging interests of investors, racing fans, owners and collectors become increasingly more difficult to balance.
Earlier on Wednesday Ferrari reported a 7 percent rise in second-quarter adjusted core earnings and confirmed its outlook for the year. Camilleri said the company’s order book remained “very strong” with waiting lists that ranged from under 12 months to up to 3-4 years for some specific models.
Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for the April-June period rose to 290 million euros ($339 million), roughly in line with a Thomson Reuters SmartEstimate.
Sales were slightly down at current currencies to 906 million euros, below expectations of 921 million euros.
Reporting by Agnieszka Flak; Editing by Keith Weir and Kirsten Donovan
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.