Ferrari finds even the rich are hitting the brakes on big spending

Daniele Lepido

Supercar manufacturers typically operate in the rarefied sphere of recession-proof consumption, where wealthy customers possess enough money to drop $300,000 or more on their purchases.

On Friday, Ferrari NV experienced the limits of that behavior, reporting growth in the second quarter far behind the first three months of the year, sending its stock tumbling. Both profit and shipments slowed, with vehicle deliveries only about a third of the gain the Italian company had delivered during the first quarter.

Following its global launch at Geneva Motor Show, the Ferrari F8 Tributo is unveiled in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Ferrari fell the most in almost ten months after climbing 70% this year before Friday’s setback. Some investors had hoped to see a raised outlook, which didn’t materialize. It shows even a supercar maker isn’t immune to a car market that has rapidly deteriorated in recent months, with companies from Daimler to BMW to Toyota cutting their goals as customers have second thoughts about purchases.

More: Ferrari to unveil 3 new models by end of 2019

“Ferrari’s order book has reached record-levels,” Chief Executive Officer Louis Camilleri told analysts on a call, forecasting demand to accelerate in the coming months.

The company’s deliveries rose 8% during the second quarter, less than the 23% during the first three months of the year, Ferrari said. The slowdown followed rival Aston Martin Lagonda this week reporting lower vehicle prices, an ominous development for an elite brand.

The Ferrari 488 Pista Spider.

Operating return on sales was “a touch” worse than expectations, Mediobanca analyst Andrea Balloni said in a note. Ferrari’s own forecast range on annual operating profit is below market expectations, he said. The shares fell as much as 6.9%.

While rising sales of the entry-level Portofino model continue to drive volumes, this was partially offset by lower deliveries of high-end vehicles like the 488 GTB, Ferrari said. Adjusted earnings before interest and amortization rose to 314 million euros ($349 million). Analysts’ estimates averaged 315.1 million euros.

Ferrari entered a new chapter in its history on May 29, 2019, with the introduction of its first series production PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle), the SF90 Stradale.

Ferrari’s results remain more encouraging than the profit warnings and sharp declines in profit across other manufacturers. The industry faces an economic slowdown and trade tensions against a backdrop of the need for unprecedented spending on electric cars.

Demand in China has shrunk 12% through June, as Ferrari’s deliveries in the world’s biggest car market jumped up by more than half.

Ferrari fell 3.9% to 143.55 euros at 4:32 p.m. in Milan trading, paring gains this year to 65%.

CEO Camilleri is pursuing a target to generate 2 billion euros in operating profit before some items no later than 2022 for the brand with the prancing-horse logo. To get there, he’s planning more profit-boosting limited-edition sports cars, and will unveil a record five new models in the coming months.

The Ferrari SF90 Stradale

In May, Ferrari showed off its first production-volume plug-in hybrid, the 1,000-horsepower SF90 Stradale to keep pace with tightening emissions regulations while still satisfying its power-hungry customers.

With assistance from Karen Lin.