PARIS (Reuters) -- PSA/Peugeot-Citroen could reach its main recovery goal early, its chief financial officer, Jean-Baptiste de Chatillon, said today, as the French carmaker's shares rejoined the benchmark CAC-40 index after a two-and-a-half-year absence.
PSA will "go after the 2 percent operating margin objective as soon as possible," de Chatillon said, before ringing the opening bell at the stock exchange in Paris.
A weaker euro and cheaper raw materials constitute "a more favorable alignment of the planets" than was assumed when PSA pledged last year to restore auto-division profitability to a 2 percent margin by 2018, the finance chief said.
CEO Carlos Tavares has since begun cutting inventory, production costs and the group's model lineup as part of his Back in the Race turnaround plan aimed at hitting the operating margin target.
Spiraling losses at the automaker led to a 3 billion euro ($3.31 billion) bailout last year, in which the French government and Chinese state-controlled carmaker Dongfeng took matching 14 percent stakes in the company.
Last month, PSA reported that in 2014 it posted an annual operating profit, its first in three years.
European sales at the automaker rose 1.1 percent in February to 107,992, according to industry body ACEA.
But PSA’s shares sank 4.7 percent last week after a March 17 investor day at the company's main research and development center outside Paris, with some analysts saying the market expected greater ambition.
"In a bull market it seems people quickly come to expect bigger and bolder and faster and higher," Bernstein analyst Max Warburton said. "But we mustn't forget that PSA has only been out of intensive care for a short while."
The shares were down a further 1.6 percent at 15.54 euros less than three hours after PSA's return to the CAC-40, which had been announced on March 5.