Ferrari profit jumps on surging demand for big-engine supercars

Ferrari is relying on cars such as the 812 Superfast to drive growth.

MILAN -- Ferrari's first-quarter profit jumped 36 percent as the Italian supercar maker benefited from demand for its priciest models, including the $2.1 million LaFerrari Aperta convertible and special editions created for its 70th anniversary.

Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization surged to 242 million euros ($265 million) from 178 million euros a year earlier, Ferrari said in a statement on Thursday.

To help drive growth, the company in March unveiled its new flagship 812 Superfast, the speediest production car in its history. The car is an updated version of the F12 berlinetta with a 6.5-liter V-12 that produces 789 hp and pushes the car to a top speed of 340 kph (211 mph) with acceleration from 0 to 100 kph (62 mph) in 2.9 seconds.

CEO Sergio Marchionne is seeking to safeguard Ferrari’s image for performance and exclusivity with cars such as the Aperta, which sold out last year before its official debut. At the same time, he is seeking to boost volume and profit to appease investors. The carmarker, which previously capped annual production at 7,000 vehicles, is on track to sell 9,000 by 2019.

Ferrari, which was spun off from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in 2015, is easing the self-imposed limit at the risk of diluting the brand. Marchionne plans to widen the lineup to draw a wider range of customers and is considering more hybrid models and less-powerful vehicles, including a version with a V-6 engine. Demand for cars with V-12 engines surged 50 percent in the first quarter, while sales of V-8-powered cars declined, the company said.

Ferrari shares climbed as much as 4.2 percent to 72.45 euros, hitting a new record, and were up 3.2 percent at 12:11 p.m. in Milan trading. The stock has surged 86 percent in the past 12 months, valuing the company at 13.6 billion euros.

The Italian manufacturer stood by its forecast that 2017 adjusted Ebitda would rise to more than 950 million euros. Deliveries are projected to increase to about 8,400 cars this year from 8,014 in 2016. Ferrari’s earnings could exceed 1 billion euros this year, Marchionne said in an interview in March.

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