Ferrari fourth-quarter earnings rose 6%

MILAN — Ferrari posted a 6 percent rise in fourth-quarter core earnings, helped by positive performance from across its regions.

Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for October-December rose to 274 million euros ($314 million), Ferrari said in a news release Thursday.

For 2019, Ferrari forecast adjusted EBITDA rising around 10 percent to between 1.2 billion and-1.25 billion euros compared to last year, while full-year revenues are seen growing more than 3 percent to more than 3.5 billion euros.

“There was concern 2019 was a transition year that could see margins fall,” Adam Jonas, an analyst at Morgan Stanley wrote in a note. Ferrari’s guidance appeared “confident enough” to address those concerns for now, he said.

The results will bolster CEO Louis Camilleri who has had a bumpy start with the stock losing 19 percent since July, when the veteran of Philip Morris International replaced a dying Sergio Marchionne. Speculation about the CEO’s future arose after Ferrari’s Formula 1 head was replaced, prompting Chairman John Elkann to publicly back the Camilleri this month.

A key challenge for Ferrari has been improving the product mix to include more of its most-profitable models. While shipments rose 10 percent in 2018, revenue was essentially flat at 845 million euros.

The new CEO plans to sell more limited-edition cars as Camilleri targets a near doubling of annual EBITDA to 2 billion euros annually no later than 2022.

Vehicles such as the 1.6 million-euro Monza supercar will be pivotal for this quest. Ferrari last year sold 499 of the models to hand-picked customers.

Camilleri has gotten off to a slow start in China, however, delaying the Purosangue sport utility vehicle, a key to growth in the market, until 2022.

Growth in China slowed to a 6 percent increase in deliveries in the fourth quarter, while the gain for all of 2018 was 13 percent. By comparison, Ferrari’s home region of Europe — its largest selling market — accelerated later in the year. Deliveries rose by 31 percent in the fourth quarter.

Ferrari is also seeking to narrow a gap in trading multiples with higher-rated luxury goods companies such as Hermes International. The luxury retailer trades at 21 times expected EBITDA for 2020, compared with Ferrari at 16 times.

Ferrari shares advanced 2.6 percent to 100.40 euros at 1:34 p.m. in Milan. The stock is up 16 percent this year.

Bloomberg contributed to this report