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Ferrari's targets and SUV plans in spotlight as Camilleri takes the wheel

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By Reuters
Ferrari's targets and SUV plans in spotlight as Camilleri takes the wheel
New Ferrari's CEO Louis Carey Camilleri arrives at the memorial service held in honor of former CEO Sergio Marchionne in Turin, Italy, September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Massimo Pinca   -   Copyright  MASSIMO PINCA(Reuters)

By Agnieszka Flak and Stefano Rebaudo

MARANELLO, Italy (Reuters) – Ferrari’s <RACE.MI> new boss will explain on Tuesday how he intends to deliver on mid-term targets, aiming to convince investors the supercar maker can maintain the pace set by his illustrious predecessor.

The company’s share price slid more than 8 percent on Aug. 1 after Louis Camilleri said he saw “risks” ahead and described the targets set by previous CEO Sergio Marchionne 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 value since taking it public in 2015 and pledged to double core earnings to 2 billion euros (£1.8 billion) by 2022.

Camilleri must now finish scripting a strategy to show how the company known for its racing pedigree and roaring combustion engines can shift towards making a sport utility vehicle (SUV) and hybrid cars while increasing shipments without sacrificing exclusivity.

“Investors are apprehensive that Ferrari may move to a guidance range,” said analysts at Evercore ISI, adding that it would be interpreted as a negative revision if the 2 billion euro figure was at the top end of such a range.

With profit margins above 30 percent, 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 <FCHA.MI>, positioned it as a luxury brand rather than a carmaker and managed to do what few thought possible: sail through a self-imposed cap of 7,000 cars a year without sacrificing pricing power or its exclusive appeal.

Ferrari has clocked up several years of record earnings, helped by special editions and a customisation programme. However, 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 increasingly difficult to balance.

It has said that a new vehicle would be unveiled at Tuesday’s event at its Maranello headquarters. Ferrari did not divulge details, but some investors expect a new range aimed at a larger demographic by focusing on characteristics other than extreme performance.

The company is also expected to provide details of its strategy on hybrid vehicles and an SUV, potentially leading to substantial growth in car sales. Some analysts expect annual shipments could reach as many as 15,000 by 2022.

While investors said they are confident Ferrari will continue to power ahead over the next 12-24 months by virtue of strong fundamentals, it could prove difficult to improve a valuation already riding on multiples higher than any other automaker and above many luxury goods companies.

(Editing by David Goodman)