Ferrari roars to open trading on Wall Street
New York — Ferrari NV — the iconic Italian sports car brand — roared ahead on its first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday closing at 6 percent over the automaker’s IPO price.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV is spinning off the luxury auto brand part to raise funds to finance its ambitious five-year growth plan announced last year.
The company sold a 9 percent stake in Ferrari Tuesday, or 17.2 million shares, to underwriters at $52 a share — at the top end of the $48 to $52 range — for $893 million. The stock opened at $60 — up 14 percent — but closed at $55 as 22 million shares changed hands Wednesday. The stock trades under the “RACE” symbol.
The market values Ferrari at $10.3 billion — a staggering sum when it only sold 7,200 cars last year. General Motors Co., by contrast, sold 9.9 million cars last year, and is worth $55.7 billion.
Standing next to a row of gleaming Ferrari sports cars parked on Wall Street, Fiat Chrysler chairman John Elkann — who also leads Exor SpA, the investment firm that owns a controlling stake in FCA, told The Detroit News the spinoff of its Ferrari brand will allow the brand to flourish.
Both Fiat Chrysler and Ferrari “need two different paths for two very different companies” and both “will have a clear life of their own.”
Elkann and Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne rang the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange and then walked down to the trading floor to watch the start of trading. Many traders wore Ferrari hats and Ferrari jackets that both commemorate the opening of trading.
Asked how he will take the Ferrari brand to the “next level,” Marchionne told reporters it was simple: “By making more money,” Marchionne said. He said the brand has a unique level of exclusivity. He said the company won’t expand too much to harm the brand. “I think the potential is much larger” than the 7,000 cars a year Ferrari sells, estimating that by 2019, Ferrari will sell 9,000 vehicles a year. “There is no equivalent in the marketplace.”
Even though Ferrari is small — it still made more money last year than all of Fiat Chrysler’s European operations— “by a long stretch,” Marchionne said. Ferrari also makes a lot of money from the sale of branded luxury goods — and has a theme park. It plans to expand efforts to market its brand.
Fiat Chrysler is likely to realize about $1.5 billion from the sale of shares and a debt offering by Ferrari, company officials said.
IHS auto analyst Ian Fletche said the proceeds will be used to pay down debt “or more likely to be directed at funding its ongoing restructuring and growth strategy. Indeed, there is still a great deal of work taking place in this area, including new models from its Alfa Romeo and Maserati premium/luxury brands which will take an increased importance in its portfolio following the Ferrari spin-off.”
The key for Ferrari, Fletche said, “maintain the combination of mystique and profit-generating ability of this business.”
Next year, Fiat Chrysler owners will get 80 percent of Ferrari — or 1 share in Ferrari for every 10 shares they own in Fiat Chrysler.
The company purposely sells fewer cars than there is demand “as part of our strategy to manage waiting lists and maintain product exclusivity.”
The U.S. accounts for more than 30 percent of Ferrari global sales. Special limited-edition vehicles routinely sell for $1.1 million or more. Ferrari allows the extensive personalization of vehicles — before they are built — which typically adds 15 percent to the purchase price, the company said.
Much of Ferrari’s revenue comes from the sale of merchandise. It licenses the brand through a network of 20 franchised and 12 owned Ferrari stores. It may expand the Ferrari brand in new categories “including sportswear, watches, accessories, consumer electronics and theme parks which we believe enhance the brand experience of our loyal following of clients and Ferrari enthusiasts.”
A row of more than a half dozen Ferraris were parked on Wall Street including a classic 1961 Ferrari and a race car. Two Detroit-made Dodge Durango SUVs were also parked alongside the higher priced Ferraris. A big Ferrari banner hung on the front of the exchange along with the Ferrari, U.S. and Italian flags.
Hundreds of tourists taking pictures of the cars — and Wall Street traders — more likely buyers — ogled the metal as they went to work.
Marchionne warned reporters covering the event not to damage a very expensive Ferrari, half-joking he would demand the news organizations pay for any dings. The Ferraris emerged from the press conference unharmed.